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Kelly Says Assessment Should Not be Used as Economic Tool
(Wednesday, April 28/2004)-- Reducing property assessments for large businesses and heavy industries should not be used as a tool for economic development in Nova Scotia, Mayor Peter Kelly said today.
Mayor Kelly said he has serious concerns the Hamm government may be considering reducing or capping property assessments for some businesses and industries as a means of providing them indirect financial assistance, rather than going through the normal channels used by economic development agencies, such as tax rebates and employment incentive programs.
"The net effect of this approach to economic development is downloading this indirect form of assistance to business or industry by the province to the taxpayers of the municipality in which the business or industry is located. This approach is very unfair to the already overburdened property taxpayer," he said."If the province wants to help a business or an industry, it should be upfront about it and follow the usual methods of providing financial assistance."
Mayor Kelly said municipalities are prohibited by the province from making tax agreements with businesses and industries; and therefore, the province should not be permitted to adjust the Assessment Rolls to put more money into the hands of commercial ventures at the expense of local property taxpayers. "It's just not the homeowner-- it's one business being subsidized at the expense of the others."
"Each year for the past number of years we have seen commitments made by the province end up on the backs of the municipal taxpayer. The property tax is the most regressive of all taxes because it is not based on one's ability to pay. Unlike the federal and provincial governments, municipalities are restricted to the property tax as its main source of revenues. We are reaching the point where property taxpayers cannot, and should not, be forced to carry any more tax burden," the Mayor concluded.
Mayor Kelly said HRM and other municipalities could take some comfort in a recent statement by a provincial Minister which was published in the March 12, 2004 edition of The Daily News regarding the assessment of a large industry operating in Dartmouth.
The report read "Municipal Relations Minister Barry Barnet said the province didn't cut a tax break for Imperial Oil. "There was no deal, or offer, or any kind of thing like that," Barnet said. "It's not what we do."
Mayor Peter Kelly