HRM council to begin debating next year's budget details this week

·2 min read

Halifax municipal finance staff are recommending a 1.9 per cent increase to the tax rate for 2021-2022, with regional council set to begin debating the details of next year's budget on Wednesday.

The increase would mean an extra $38 to the tax bill of an average single-family home. For commercial taxpayers, the average increase would be $817.

That worries Coun. Tim Outhit, who represents District 16, Bedford-Wentworth.

"I am absolutely always concerned about the impact on any tax increase to small business particularly," said Outhit. "So we'll be looking at this very carefully over the next few months."

According to the finance report, the budget is taking place "amidst a global pandemic where economic uncertainty is at levels not seen since the 1930s." HRM officials believe it will take until 2024 for the municipality's economy to get back to 2019 levels.

This will be the first budget process for seven new councillors elected in October, including Pamela Lovelace, who represents District 13, Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets. She agrees the budget process will be challenging.

"I don't want to raise taxes, this is not a good news story for me," said Lovelace. "But we're trying to build sustainable and viable communities, it's very complex."

CBC
CBC

Revenue from both transit fares and parking is coming back, but the amount remains uncertain because of the number of people who are still working from home. Meanwhile, compensation costs for employees, which represents 52 per cent of the budget, will increase by $27 million.

The Property Valuation Services Corporation also mailed out assessment notices on Monday. According to the PVSC, the overall value of residential and commercial properties in Nova Scotia is up almost three percent.

"This year's assessments are consistent with the trends we've seen in the past few years — relatively stable overall, with small increases of one to two percent in residential assessments," Lloyd MacLeod, a senior valuation manager for the corporation, said in a release.

The assessment roll is based on market values in 2019. Officials say new construction, particularly apartments, is behind the increase in many areas.

Anyone who wants to contest their assessment has to send in an appeal to the PVSC by Feb. 11.

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