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May 1, 2000 - Increased Assistance for those of Fixed Income - Tax Relief

Increased Assistance for Those of Fixed Income

(Monday, May 1/2000)-- Local homeowners on fixed incomes and faced with rising municipal property taxes will be eligible for increased assistance from the Halifax Regional Municipality this year.

Additional money has been set aside to help low-income homeowners pay their property taxes. This account was reduced last year as HRM undertook stiff measures across the board to balance its Budget and get its financial house in order.

Councillor Russell Walker (District 15-Fairview/Clayton Park) spearheaded the move this year to raise the income cut-off level to include households with income under $23,000. This change should see about 400 households re-instated back into the program.

"Our citizens on fixed income have been hardest hit by reductions in social programs, and we do not want to see the disparity between rich and poor growing wider. That's why previous cuts in this area must be restored as quickly as possible," he said.

Councillor Sheila Fougere (District 14-Connaught/Quinpool) led the Council effort to include low-income homeowners with tax bills over $2,000 in this year's program.

"Although we couldn't totally restore the funds in this account to their previous level in one year, it was important to provide some relief to those on the higher end of the tax billings," she said.

Councillor Fougere has been leading the effort to include this segment of taxpayers - typically, elderly widows/widowers who wish to remain in their own homes-- in the tax relief program. Despite rising property values, these residents want to remain in familiar surroundings and within reach of social ties and local amenities.

The benefits of modest property tax rebates isn't limited to owners of expensive properties within metro. The majority of rebate recipients are residents of the former County of Halifax, where rising land costs and tax assessments, suburban developments, and the purchase of land by non-residents have exerted pressure on local homeowners.

More than 3,000 application forms will be mailed to former applicants, beginning today. Forms and information newsletters are available from HRM Customer Service Centres or residents may call HRM Customer Call Centre 490-4000 and request that a form be mailed.

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Peta-Jane Temple
Project Co-ordinator, Grants Program
(902) 490-5469