Halifax councillors at odds over proposed property tax increase

Municipal finance staff propose 5.9 per cent hike

Mayor Mike Savage is hoping to soften the hit to next year’s tax bill as budget discussions begin at Halifax City Hall.

Ahead of the budget committee meeting Tuesday, municipal finance staff proposed a 5.9 per cent increase to the average commercial and residential tax bills.

Savage introduced an amendment during the meeting to look at options to limit the increase to 3.7 per cent.

“I don’t like handing out intergenerational debt,” he said.

The average increase of 5.9 per cent translates to $121 for residential properties and $2,553 for commercial properties.

This increase is calculated based on the average residential property assessment of $262,700. The 5.9 per cent increase would also apply to commercial tax bills, calculated from the average property assessment of $1,456,000.

For properties assessed at less than the average, the increase would be less. For those taxed above the average, it would be more.

Three per cent of the proposed increase would cover climate change actions, such as net zero buildings and the purchase of 60 transit buses.

The other 2.9 per cent would contribute to capital and operating costs of projects like the proposed Mill Cove ferry and the Halifax Forum redevelopment.

Coun. Waye Mason, representing Halifax South Downtown, supports starting the budget process with the 5.9 per cent increase to fund the proposed projects.

“I really feel this is a bite the bullet year and when it comes to covering the operating cost of these key initiatives, that’s going to have to go into the tax rate and I don’t see any way around it,” he said in the meeting.

Coun. Becky Kent, representing Dartmouth South–Eastern Passage, said that the increase is too much for her constituents.

“I’m just thinking about timing on the ability for our citizens to actually survive this kind of increase,” Kent said. “Just the thoughts of an increase like this can take a toll on those families.”

Coun. Tim Outhit, representing Bedford, supports Savage’s amendment to prepare a supplemental report. Outhit said that the 5.9 per cent increase “makes a lot of councillors and residents cringe.”

The committee passed Savage’s amendment but will meet on Friday to continue debate on the planned tax increases.

Meagan Byrd

Meagan Byrd

Meagan is a multimedia journalist for The Signal at the University of King's College. She got her HBA in Political Science from the University of Toronto and is completing a Master's in Journalism at Kings. She likes podcasts and a good cup of coffee.

Have a story idea? Let us know

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *