Halifax isn’t checking the numbers
Auditor general says city must confirm accuracy of data used in calculating property taxes
The municipality needs to do a better job verifying the information it uses to calculate how much property tax is paid by four large commercial property owners — tax accounts that add up to more than $7 million annually.
That’s one of the findings from the municipal auditor general’s report into property tax management, released on Wednesday in a presentation to council’s audit and finance standing committee.
Auditor general Evangeline Colman-sadd told the committee that her office decided to audit property tax management because almost 80 per cent Halifax’s revenue comes from property tax.
Though the audit found that, generally, Halifax “effectively” manages its property tax activities, Colman-sadd’s office made five recommendations for improvement, all accepted by management.
The first is that finance staff should confirm the “accuracy of data used in calculating taxes payable under tax agreements before issuing tax bills.”
Halifax enters into tax Sidewalks don’t stretch the full length of Herring Cove Rd., but the city wants the long and winding road to Spryfield to be more pedestrian friendly.
The municipality will consult the public on Thursday night at the Captain William Spry Community Centre on a new plan for a roughly six-kilometre stretch of Herring Cove Rd. from the Armdale Rotary to Mcintosh Run trail.
“It’s going to be a long-term functional plan, so as paving projects come up over the coming years, instead of putting back what’s there, we’d look to the functional plan and make those changes,” Though the audit found that, generally, Halifax “effectively” manages its property tax activities, Colman-sadd’s office made five recommendations.
agreements with some major commercial or industrial property owners, with annual taxes payable based on a formula in the agreement.
For instance, the Halifax International Airport Authority — one of the four unverified accounts — pays tax based on a formula that adds 22 cents per passenger to a base amount adjusted according to the consumer price index. There are currently eight such agreements, with varying formulas.
The audit found in four of those cases, Halifax wasn’t verifying the accuracy of the information, given to the city Herring Cove Road in Spryfield is due for a redesign and the municipality is asking for citizens’ input.
municipal program engineer Harrison Mcgrath explained.
The plan could eventually include bike and bus lanes, as well as more pedestrian infrastructure, but Mcgrath said the Thursday meeting will focus on what is working and what isn’t working right now.
“We’re just looking for feedback and input from the community, and then, in WWW.THESTAR.COM
by the property owners, used to calculate the taxes.
Colman-sadd said her office found no evidence that any of the four property owners was under or overpaying, but, she said, “there’s a risk that it’s just wrong.”
“It’s a better practice to verify the information, as opposed to just relying on somebody to submit information that is accurate and correct.”
Halifax wants a more pedestrian-friendly Herring Cove Rd.
phase two, we would use that input to speak to the functional plan,” he said.
The redesign will rely on the municipality’s Integrated Mobility Plan, its ambitious (though currently underfunded) transportation plan, to inform the changes on the street.