4 Sussex-area LSDs rebuff rink tax in vote
Studholm, Sussex Parish, Cardwell and Waterford voted against a new arena tax
Four local service districts outside of Sussex voted against an annual tax to help maintain the 8th Hussars Sports Centre on Wednesday.
Studholm, Sussex Parish, Cardwell and Waterford all opposed the idea of putting a tax increase of 1.16 cents per $100 of assessed property value for 20 years.
The 8th Hussars Sports Centre was in the red by about $150,000 last year and Sussex residents have been shouldering the deficit alone for years.
Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne said rural communities are often reluctant to support recreational facilities through their taxes.
"People living in LSDs are very generous in giving, in terms of supporting a lot of causes, but taxes seem to be a real issue with folks living in LSDs," Thorne said.
"We saw this play out in Grand Bay. Fredericton struggled with it 10 years. We're just one in a line of municipalities that the government of New Brunswick at some point is going to have to step in because it is a universal issue. I think it causes lot of stress, a lot of hard feelings between municipalities and their surrounding neighbours."
Thorne said people who sign up for hockey or figure skating at the rink will now pay the same registration fee up front, amounting to a few hundred dollars in addition a year.
But he said people in Sussex and Sussex Corner will then be able to apply for a rebate.
The Sussex mayor said he understands this extra fee is going to be difficult for some people to pay.
"We know that there's going to be an impact, certainly it's going to be a struggle for some families, particularly if they have two or three children to be able to afford to be able to get them into sports," he said.
"We were certainly hopeful that the communities would share our philosophy, which is that we believe that communities fundamentally have a responsibility to help provide recreational opportunities for their residents, and particularly for the children. It is very unfortunate that they do not."