New Brunswick·Special Report

Atholville mill's tax cut leaves residents with bigger bills

Residents of Atholville were hit with a record property tax increase this year in the wake of a big reduction in the tax assessment on the village's biggest taxpayer.

6 pulp mills had tax value slashed this year after appealing tax assessment

Atholville residents were hit with a record property tax increase this year in the wake of a big reduction in the tax assessment on the northern village's biggest taxpayer.

The Village of Atholville lost $400,000 in tax revenue when the assessed value of the AV Cell mill was reduced by more than half by provincial assessors after an appeal. (CBC)
The AV Cell mill in Atholville appealed its property tax assessment this year and won a big reduction, similar to the other five pulp mills in New Brunswick.

Property tax assessors cut the assessed value of the mill by more than half, resulting in the town losing $400,000 in tax revenue.

Atholville Mayor Michel Soucy and the village council had some tough decisions to make, keeping in mind that many residents are seniors and on a fixed income, to offset the sudden revenue shortfall.

"We needed to think about it before going through with a major tax increase," said Soucy.

Atholville Mayor Michel Soucy said the village council had to make tough decisions to offset the sudden revenue shortfall. (CBC)
Village council decided to increase property taxes by 10 per cent. But the assessed value of many homes in the village also increased last year and that pushed tax bills even higher.

Gerard Bertin, a life-long resident of the northern village, said simple things, such as putting food on the table, have become tough for some people in the community this year after they were hit with record property tax increases.

"It's a little bit like having to go and buy food and putting oil to heat your house," said Bertin.

"If you don't pay, they're going to come after you. So it becomes a question of trying to survive."

Gerard Bertin said the Progressive Conservative Party's 2010 promise to freeze property assessments for seniors would have helped many people in Atholville. (CBC)
​Bertin said the assessment freeze the Progressive Conservatives promised for seniors in the 2010 election would have helped many in Atholville.

"When you get a retiree, you're also on a fixed income, so the price of food, the price of everything goes up. And so did our taxes."

The Alward government cancelled the property tax assessment freeze for 60,000 seniors because it was projected to cost $173 milllion within 10 years.

Instead, those older than 65 are offered the opportunity to defer assessment increases, with the province taking liens on homes of seniors to secure unpaid taxes. Only 60 seniors have subscribed to the new program.


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