Municipalities push for new revenue options
Municipal leaders in southeast New Brunswick are asking the provincial government for new sources of money so their councils can deliver important services.
Various mayors and councillors were among the roughly 100 members of the public who met with Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch on Tuesday night in Riverview.
Fitch is touring the province asking for suggestions on how to redesign local governance and taxation systems.
A Dieppe councillor suggested to Fitch the provincial government should give a share of the tax revenue collected from the sale of liquor to the communities.
Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc also told the public meeting his city needs new options to raise money so it can deliver public services.
"If you really want to solve the problem, provide other sources of income to municipalities so that they don't have to rely solely on property taxes and people don't have to get those big tax bills once a year," LeBlanc said.
Another councillor suggested to Fitch that councils should receive a slice of the harmonized sales tax spent in each community.
While the politicians were concerned about raising new funds, others in the crowd were worried any move to amalgamate communities could mean higher taxes.
The provincial government is trying to encourage rural areas to merge.
Fitch suggests it would create communities with larger populations and more tax dollars that could more efficiently deliver services.
However, most of the participants on Tuesday night said they felt their tax levels were already too high.
Janet LeBlanc said her property was amalgamated into the Beaubassin area in 2006. She said the year after her tax bill went up by 80 per cent.
Raymond Murphy, the executive director of the Union of Municipalities in New Brunswick, told the public meeting that most people want public services and those services cost money.
"If we want a service, we've got to pay for it," he said.
However, that argument didn't work for every participant in Tuesday night's session.
Tom Berran, a Stilesville resident, said he is fine with the lack of good fire or snowplowing services.
"Our expression is the water is cleaner and the taxes are lower," he said.