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HRM Clarifies Misleading Information on Tax Structure Plan
(Wednesday, May15, 2002) - Halifax Regional Municipality wishes to clarify misleading information which was circulated today in a media source under the headline" Single Tax Rate Proposed". The HRM Call Centre has been flooded with calls from people with concerns about the new proposed tax structure plan erroneously defined as having a single tax rate.
HRM Regional Council has proposed a plan in principle that would see adjustments to the current urban, suburban and rural general tax rates. Currently the Urban and Suburban tax rates include the cost of the fire service, recreational facilities, streetlights and crosswalk guards. These same services are paid for by an area rate in the rural area. Under the proposal, these four services would be included in all three general tax rates and there would be no need for these rural area rates.
This should not be defined as a single tax rate proposal. Urban, suburban and rural general tax rates are mandated under provincial law and would remain. Those receiving the service will pay for it. Hence, urban areas would continue to pay for Metro Transit and Sidewalks through the Urban general tax rate. Currently, there is no proposed change to area rates for supplementary education, sidewalk plowing or hydrants. The costs of some existing recreational facilities would continue to be paid through either area rates or the Urban/Suburban General Tax Rate. Water and Sewer are paid for separately by user fees and are unaffected in the new proposal.
Over time service changes will occur in rural areas as "basic service" levels are made available for fire, street lighting and other services. These service changes are dependent upon criteria currently being developed by HRM staff. There is no intention to provide the same level of service in every area of HRM. Rather service levels will be dependent upon the service standards set by Council. Changes in tax levels will begin in 2003-2004. Since rural area rates tend to be higher than the equivalent urban rate, it is expected that many rural taxpayers may see the same or even a lower tax burden.
The Chairperson of the HRM Tax Structure Committee, Councillor Ron Cooper said, "A series of public information sessions on the Tax Structure Reform are being planned for September 2002." He added, "Some of the locations will include Middle Musquodoboit, Sheet Harbour, Musquodoboit Harbour, Waverley/Fall River, Lake Echo, Halifax, Dartmouth, Sackville/Beaver Bank, Shad Bay/Prospect and Tantallon. The specific dates for the Public Information Sessions will be advertised once they are confirmed."
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Contact: Bruce Fisher
HRM Financial Services
Councillor Ron Cooper
Chairman, HRM Tax Structure Committee