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HRM to Seek Public Input on Tax Structure Changes
(Friday, September 13/2002)-- Halifax Regional Council is seeking citizen input regarding proposed changes in the municipality's Tax Structure.
Mayor Peter Kelly and Councillor Ron Cooper, Chair of the HRM Tax Structure Committee, today launched "Commitment to Community 2003", a series of public consultations to ensure that all residents of HRM have the opportunity to voice their thoughts, opinions and concerns regarding the proposed Tax Structure.
For the past two years, a Council-Staff committee has been reviewing HRM's Tax Structure. In July, the Committee submitted its proposal to Regional Council for changes to the existing Tax Structure.
Both Mayor Kelly and Councillor Cooper stressed this morning that the Tax Structure initiative does not mean the municipality is contemplating abandoning its current Urban/Suburban/Rural tax regime in favor of a single-rate tax structure.
Mayor Kelly said "Through our Commitment to Community 2003 initiative, the proposed Tax Structure will provide opportunities for all communities to access basic public safety and community services. We are committed to providing all 196 communities with an appropriate level of service, regardless of where they live, work or travel within the municipality.
Under the current system, fire services, streetlights, recreational facilities and school crossing guards are not included in the Base Tax Rate. In rural areas, these services must be paid for through Area Rates. Some communities do not currently have the tax base to afford these basic levels of service, so Tax Structure changes are proposed.
Councillor Cooper said "This new process will give communities with smaller tax bases the support they need for essential services, such as fire protection and street lighting. As part of our Commitment to Community 2003 initiative, this proposed Tax Structure will ultimately allow HRM to support its many volunteer groups, as well as those smaller communities."
The Councillor continued "The proposed Tax Structure will improve the quality of life and public safety of our residents. This is a change for the better, and we want to ensure that residents living and working in the Halifax Regional Municipality have access to basic services."
By replacing the Area Rate system with the General Tax Rate, all residents of HRM will share in the costs of public safety. This meets the goal of Halifax Regional Council to provide all HRM residents with access to a standard basic level of service.
Because any changes to the Tax Structure are only at the proposal stage, Halifax Regional Council is seeking input from residents throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality. Over the next six weeks, a total of 14 public meetings will be held throughout the municipality to further explain the changes that are being proposed. Following the public consultations, Council will then make its decision on the proposals.
Mayor Kelly added "We invite and encourage all residents of HRM to participate in Regional Council's public consultation process on the proposed Tax Structure-- we'd like to know your thoughts."
Mayor Peter Kelly
Councillor Ron Cooper (District 4-- Cole Harbour North/Cherry Brook)
Chair, HRM Tax Structure Committee
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