Colchester County’s residential taxes to increase by a half cent
Rising policing costs, other provincial payments cited as reasons
TRURO, N. S. – Increased policing costs and other payments to the provincial government contributed to Colchester County’s decision to slightly increase the residential tax rate, Mayor Christine Blair says.
“We had to pay extra this year,” Blair told the Truro News. “It is important to note that there is some costs and revenue streams that are not within our control.”
Nearly 48 per cent of the taxes collected from the ratepayers of Colchester County is sent to the provincial government, the mayor said.
Council recently approved an operating budget of $25,075,278. That included an increase to the residential property tax rate of a half cent, to $ 0.885 per $100 of assessment.
The commercial rate is unchanged at $2.28 per $100 of assessment.
Blair said the increase will result in an additional annual charge of $5.88 for residential property owners with properties of an average assessed value of slightly more than $100,000. Properties valued at $200,000 will see an increase of $10 on their annual bill.
She said mandatory payments to the province increased by about $185,000 this year for policing, education/schools, subsidized housing, libraries and other services.
The cost for RCMP services increased by one per cent to $ 4,459,000 million for the current fiscal year.
“So that’s a significant amount,” Blair said.
She added, however, that council is concerned the current policing levels do not match expenditures and, as a result, it is requesting a full review of service levels and value for payment. It will also assess alternatives for service delivery.
The half- cent tax increase will generate approximately $100,000 in additional revenue to the municipality.
“We had quite a lengthy discussion. Some people felt that we should not increase the half cent but we felt that we would like to keep our reserves built up,” Blair said. “I mean, if you keep dipping into your reserves then you don’t have reserves and you have difficulty. We continue to keep working on our reserves as much as we can.”
In the past seven years, Colchester County has increased residential property taxes by five cents.
“I know that no one likes to have tax increases but we still enjoy one of the lowest rates of property taxes in rural Nova Scotia,” Blair said. “And we know we have a lot of competing needs and we’ve got competing requests and opportunities.”
As part of the budget, council also approved $72,946.50 for grants to non-profit organizations, $42,000 for community event grants and $76,100 for other annual grants.
A further $100,000 was allotted for economic development; $100,000 for the Flood Advisory Committee and $100,000 to Major Flood Reserves and $75,000 for Scotia Pool.