Berwick’s budget

Berwick’s budget process got a lot of print in the Advertiser of June 8th. Our impression is that, if the report is anything near the truth, there was a lot more fight to cut costs there than in Wolfville, where the process seemed to be rushed through and where everyone just rolled over and said yes, sir, aye sir. There actually seems to be a desire in Berwick to reduce the tax burden on residents. Amazing.

Councillors decided they’d eliminate travel and conference allowances, for example. Wolfville must feel fairly flush financially as our Mayor and Councillors haven’t resorted to such a drastic measure.

Of course there some things in the report which are discouraging.  For example, Councillor Don Clarke apparently said –  “Berwick needs to ‘hold the line’ on tax rates‘. How many times have we heard that weary, old line. As if that held the line on taxes! If Sara Keddy’s report is accurate Clarke then said:

We’re higher than Wolfville or Kentville, even Halifax – don’t add to the tax rate until we absolutely have to.

Oh, dear. How long, how long, will it be before councillors (in charge of our money) get it through their heads that the tax rate is not taxes. The tax rate is a meaningless measure of relative tax burdens between municipalities. There was a page in the Wolfville budget document to show how Wolfville tax rates compared with neighbouring towns. Why? It was a waste of a page. Was the graph meant to deceive taxpayers or is  our CAO woefully uneducated about how property taxes work? But we digress. Back to Berwick.

It didn’t take long for Councillor Clarke in Berwick to be corrected by Mayor John Prall who responded that “Wolfville has a lower rate, but assessments are higher; meaning the town [Wolfville] had the second highest tax burden in the province.”

That bears repeating – the second highest tax burden in the province. We feel this administration won’t be happy until Wolfville is first in this also, as it is in so many other areas.

You mustn’t think however that Berwick’s administration is benign. Anyone buying a house in Berwick should beware; they have seemingly just thrown R1 zoning out the window.

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3 responses to “Berwick’s budget

  1. The internet

    The tax rate is the only factor a municipality has control over. Assessments are controlled by PVSC which is done according to the NS assessment act. If Wolfville has higher assessments than a place like Berwick, it’s because the properties here have higher market value. This means that a property in Wolfville is considered more desirable due to the services, culture, sense of community, and access to a beautiful downtown, parks and schools etc. (No disrespect to Berwick intended!)

    If Wolfville has the second highest assessments in NS, but has a lower tax rate than other towns, I’d say we’re doing really well, even if we pay more per year than people in Berwick.

    Would you like the municipality to bust up the pavement and dump garbage in your yard so your assessment is lowered?

    • No, it’s not a matter of “busting up the pavement”. The issue is whether residents are happy to just shrug their shoulders and keep feeding the ineffective gluttons at Town Hall. Go ahead, double the taxes, and all you’ll get is more lard-ass bureaucrats to spewing ever more gobbledygook thicker and faster than a Gulf of Mexico gusher!

      Look what happened the other day when our dead-head Mayor discovered an extra $80k in the kitty — the useless drivel-mouth immediately started rattling on about how he was going to waste it on yet another lame-brained talk feast! And the good sheep of Wolfville were pitiful in their acquiescence. My true opinion of the wastrels at Town Hall is unprintable in this overly-polite-society.

  2. You say:” The tax rate is the only factor a municipality has control over. ” This misunderstanding is the crux of the whole matter. The town has complete control over the amount of tax it can collect. The tax rate and the assessment figures are only the formula, the means to the goal of collecting enough money to meet budget requirements. It is true that there are parts of the budget that are outside of the administration’s control, for example the bill for education. (The CAO suggested at one time that these be separately featured on the tax bill for the education of the taxpayers! Not a bad idea.)
    However, the bottom line is that the tax rate, more properly called a mil rate, is only a multiplier. Wolfville’s tax rate is lower because our assessments are higher. That is as it should be given a flat budget. But notice that Berwick’s mayor said Wolfville’s tax burden was the second highest in the province. That means residents in Wolfville pay more taxes here than all but one other place in the province.

    You may believe that the taxes we pay are being spent wisely and are worth it. We do not. Therein lies our difference of opinion.