Colch­ester County’s res­i­den­tial taxes to in­crease by a half cent

Ris­ing polic­ing costs, other pro­vin­cial pay­ments cited as rea­sons

Truro Daily News - - COLCHESTER COUNTY / OPINION - HARRY SUL­LI­VAN

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.

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