He gets it

This letter to the editor in Saturday’s CH was written by a taxpayer who “gets it”.

Taxes out of line

The tax rate in Halifax Regional Municipality is unchanged. Really. The bottom line is that property taxes are increasing again this year, well beyond the pace of growth for GDP and wages for the vast majority of homeowners and well above inflation. This has been the history of this municipality since amalgamation.

Keeping the tax rate the same is not the same as keeping property taxes the same. To have the budget increase another 4.3 per cent in the current economic climate is simply outrageous and just adds more pain on the backs of the taxpayers.

While the new CAO’s efforts to contain overtime costs are laudable, the growth in the number of employees and wage costs for the municipality are out of control (plus six per cent increase in wages and benefits alone). How about a little relativity here? Our property taxes are out of line relative to both other similarly sized municipalities and house prices.

Let’s compare the number of employees working for HRM with other similarly sized municipalities in Canada. Are we receiving better service relative to the rapidly increasing property taxes? I think we all know the answer to that question.

Don Mills, President & CEO,

Corporate Research Associates Inc.

The bottom line is the budget bottom line which is largely in the control of Council. Municipalities’ budgets have been inflated for the last umpteen years because municipalities have treated assessment like a revenue stream they were entitled to tap. Instead of looking to keep their budgets lean they found more and more ingenious ways to spend other people’s money – our money. Even had they used the assessment “windfall” to pay down their debt we would be more sympathetic.

It now looks as if the Province is looking at property assessment the same way.  As a cash cow. And now the mayors are crying foul? We won’t shed any tears for them, only for the poor ratepayers who have to pay for past and present incompetence and indulgence.

We predict a tax revolt, and soon.

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