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.