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Terms of Reference Tax Reform Committee (TRC)


Taxation Reform has been discussed by Regional Council or Committee of the Whole (COW) on a number of occasions. A motion was passed by Council on April 16, 2004 to look at alternatives to the current property tax system. Council discussed tax reform on March 8, 2005, September 6, 2005 and again during the COW Focus Areas on January 25, 2006. Tax Reform is described in the Regional Plans recommendations (Chapter 5 “Economy and Finance”) and is listed as one of the CAOs 2006-2007 Goals and Objectives. On September 26, 2006 Council created the Tax Reform Committee (TRC).

Tax reform can be described as encompassing five key issues:

  • Rapidly rising, uneven market values, unrelated to municipal services or income levels,
  • Resources being shifted to fund mandatory education,
  • Issues surrounding urban, suburban and rural taxation and services (eg tax boundaries),
  • The need to encourage growth and development, 
       - Stronger connection between the tax system and the Regional Plan
  • Unclear philosophy/ long term objectives exist for the current tax system.
       - Limited sensitivity to ability to pay
       - Weak connection between taxes and services
       - Requirement for a competitive taxation regime

There are four critical factors that will determine the success of the tax reform project.

  • Agreement on Objectives
  • Ability to Accept Change
  • Ability to Innovate
  • Council Leadership

Community involvement, understanding and interaction is critical to the success of tax reform. Tax discussions can be both complex and emotional and can be difficult to communicate. Hence communications and organization is critical to the Tax Reform project.


Committee Purpose

The Tax Reform Committee (TRC) will be established to advise Halifax Regional Council and staff on the development of Tax Reform for the Halifax Regional Municipality. It will provide an important communication and public participation link between HRM and the broader community and stakeholders. This steering committee will be the “eyes and ears” of HRM residents and business people throughout the tax reform process and provide leadership to the project. This will help ensure that different community issues and values are identified and appropriately considered. The Committee will advise staff on the review and analysis of public information and help form recommendations for Council. Again, this helps ensure that all stakeholders have a place in tax reform throughout the entire process, thereby strengthening the community’s contribution to any recommendations.


Committee Role and Responsibility

  • To represent taxation concerns and ideas of the public and business community,
  • To improve sharing and disseminating information, to community stakeholders and interested parties, and to communicate milestone progress,
  • To oversee the development of the tax reform project,
       - The project plan and timeline
       - The development of public materials
       - The development of the public participation and communication plan
  • To oversee and participate in the analysis and interpret results from public participation,
  • To oversee and participate in the development of recommendations for COW and Regional Council concerning tax reform,
  • To assist and advise on the implementation of the tax reform recommendations,
  • To meet with staff at a frequency that is sufficient to achieve project goals and meet the timeline that has been established for completion of the project.



  • 6 Councillors including at least two councillors from the urban, suburban and rural areas.
  • 7 HRM Residents including at least 2 members of the business community, and at least one resident over the age of 65.


Observers, Other:

  • Official(s) from the provincial government may be invited as non-voting members or in specific circumstances.
  • Any Councillor may participate in the TRC as an observer.


Criteria for evaluating potential committee members will include:

  • The background and experience required to meet one of the member categories listed in this terms of reference,
  • Willingness and ability to commit to the term of the project and to attend and participate in project meetings,
  • Skills and experience related to the role and responsibilities outlined above.

The selection committee reserves the right to seek an appropriate and diverse balance of committee members including a mix of people with a diversity of perspectives on taxation issues.



  • The term of appointment will be for the duration of the project
  • Appointments will be made by the selection committee.


Chair and Vice-Chair:

  • The committee elect a chair and vice-chair position. The Chair shall be a resident.
  • The role of the chair, in whole or part, can be shared with or delegated to the vice-chair in order to carry-out the role and responsibilities of the committee.
  • The chair or vice chair will be expected to:
       - Guide the discussion and facilitate meetings
       - Encourage participation by committee members
       - Work with staff in preparing meeting agendas and supporting materials
       - Act as a spokesperson for the committee



  • The quorum for regular meetings shall be a majority of voting members.
  • Decisions will be made by majority vote.



  • Meetings will be held at a frequency that is necessary to conduct the business of the committee. A schedule will be determined at the start-up meeting for the committee. In addition to regular meetings, additional means of communication will be necessary to conduct the business of the group.



  • HRM shall provide staff resources to the committee and will provide assistance with the following:
       - Coordination and arrangement of the meeting time and venue
       - Circulation of the meeting agenda
       - Minute-taking
       - Preparation and distribution of material
       - Reporting ongoing project information and status updates
       - Presentation of planning materials as needed