Brian Gallant announces Canaport LNG tax deal will be repealed
Legislation will be introduced to make repeal effective for 2017 tax year
The 2005 tax deal that gave Canaport LNG property owner Irving Oil Ltd. a 90 per cent discount on its property tax bill until 2030 will be repealed effective next year.
"We're cancelling a tax break that was given to the Canaport LNG terminal," said Premier Brian Gallant Tuesday at a news conference in Saint John.
"It's as simple as that."
- Saint John request repeal of Canaport LNG tax deal
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Gallant says the new legislation will be introduced in November and is being drafted at the request of Saint John city council and with the consent of other municipalities that could be impacted.
Irving Oil currently pays $500,000 on the Canaport parcel, although the property's assessed value is $299.4 million.
Without the discount, the company would be expected to pay more than $8 million per year in property taxes.
"When the property valuation is finalized, any balance in the account, with applicable interest, will be paid to Saint John and other entitled local governments," said Gallant.
Saint John Mayor Don Darling says it's too soon to say what the city's net gain could be.
"If there's any new increase in taxes collected, and there's no guarantee that this will happen, it will go directly to support community priorities such as roads, recreation and safety services for the residents of Saint John," said Darling.
The province has a formula that shifts some funding from municipalities with strong tax bases toward those with weaker tax bases.
In 2016, Saint John's equalization payment through the formula was $17.5 million.
It's possible that some of that money could be clawed back and redistributed to other towns and villages.
Miramichi, for example, which currently receives $5.4 million in equalization, could expect more.
Other beneficiaries would likely include Edmundston, currently receiving $3.5 million in equalization, Bathurst at $2 million, and Moncton at $2.3 million.
Prior to the premier's announcement today, the province said it was looking to other municipalities to agree to the trust fund concept until everything is sorted out.
The province didn't want to be on the hook for funds owed back to Irving in the event that the company's tax assessment is altered to Irving's advantage.
Gallant prefaced today's announcement by saying it was the Bernard Lord Conservative government that approved the tax break in 2005 and that the Liberals of the day opposed it.