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Kelly Will Confer With UNSM Regarding Province's Actions

(Thursday, April 3/2003)-- For the second year in a row, the Government of Nova Scotia has amended the formula for Mandatory Education Funding without prior notice or consultation with municipalities, and has arbitrarily implemented the changes without abiding by its own one-year notification requirement, Mayor Peter Kelly said today.

Mayor Kelly said he will be conferring with members of Halifax Regional Council and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, as well as seeking legal advice, regarding the Province's non-conformance with provisions of its own Municipal Government Act (Section 519).

"I am very disappointed there was no prior notice or consultation. I am hoping that we can establish a higher level of consultation with the new Minister of Municipal Relations in order to avoid these kind of surprises. We want to cooperate and work with the Province, but actions like we learned about today are not helpful," he said.

Mayor Kelly was commenting on the Province's 2003/2004 Budget, which was brought down in the Nova Scotia Legislature today. Under the formula changes, municipalities are now be required to cost-share on the operational portion of the leasing costs for P-3 schools, as well as the cost of amortizing the purchase of school buses.

Over the past two years, Halifax Regional Municipality faced close to a $7 million increase in Mandatory Education Funding, bringing the total to about $67 million. As a result of today's Budget, HRM will have to pay an additional $1 million, bringing the total increase over two years to about $8 million.

The Mayor said "No matter how hard we try to anticipate increases in education costs, which Constitutionally are the responsibility of the Province, the government always waits until the last minute, and always comes in higher than municipalities can anticipate and/or afford. As a result of today's Budget, we now have to provide for an additional $1 million or so, so will have to watch expenditures very, very carefully. We can't go back to the taxpayers and ask them to hand over more money to the Province."

Mayor Kelly also said he was disappointed that the Province continues to collect monies for municipal property taxes from Nova Scotia Power Inc., a private company, and hand them out to various municipalities as it sees fit.

It was announced in today's Budget Speech that payments by Nova Scotia Power to municipalities will increase by $4.6 million this year, bringing the annual total to $31 million. However, only $1.8 million of the increase will be paid to municipalities that are home to major NSP properties, and the remaining $2.8 million will be used by the Province to fund its Municipal Equalization Program.

The Mayor said " HRM is pleased that municipalities, such as Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Queens Regional Municipality, Trenton and Annapolis Royal, among others, will receive a portion of these NSP taxes. Municipalities that host NSP properties should be receiving taxes for the services they are is only right."

However, Mayor Kelly is concerned about the way in which municipalities receive these monies.

"The Province is, in effect, collecting municipal taxes, taking a share for themselves off the top, and then deciding how the remainder will be shared among the municipalities. There is something fundamentally wrong here, " Mayor Kelly said.


Mayor Peter Kelly
(902) 490-4010

Above content last modified Thursday, November 02, 2023 at 11:40am.