Nova Scotia

Irving Shipbuilding and HRM reach special shipyard tax deal

Halifax and Irving Shipbuilding Inc. have negotiated a proposed tax agreement for the Halifax shipyard after working on a deal for about a year.

Arrangement disclosed by accident in council documents

Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and Halifax Regional Municipality have come to a special tax arrangement for Halifax Shipyard. (Irving Shipbuilding)

Halifax and Irving Shipbuilding Inc. have negotiated a proposed tax agreement for the Halifax shipyard after working on a deal for about a year. 

Before its $300 million taxpayer funded modernization, CBC News estimated the shipyard was paying about $1.3 million a year in taxes based on the commercial tax rate. The shipyard's assessed value has since jumped from $39 million to $56 million.

Irving officials argue, however, the site only has one purpose and that should limit the amount of taxes that are levied.

"It's very complicated,” says Greg Keefe, the city's chief financial officer. "So we just thought to try to avoid years of appeals and court cases we'd try to come to an agreement ahead of time."

Keefe confirms the proposed deal is a long term one but won't discuss any details.

The deal was buried in budget documents that went to Halifax council Wednesdayy, but were not debated. The document says the city will receive an extra $580,000 next year due mostly to a new tax agreement with Irving Shipbuilding.

Kevin Lacey, with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, has concerns.

"This tax agreement is special and different from all other taxpayers in the city," Lacey says. "Is it going to be fair for all of us that the city has been put into this situation to do this type of deal?"

The situation also makes Coun. Tim Outhit uneasy. He favours new tax categories for the industrial sector, condo owners and small businesses.

"I have to wait and see what comes forward, but if this is something just for Irving, I'm going to be disappointed with that," Outhit says.

Regional council should get its first look at the proposed tax agreement with Irving in the middle of April. 

An Irving spokesperson wouldn’t comment Thursday.

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