Nova Scotia

Port Hawkesbury tax decision raises questions

A Port Hawkesbury councillor is defending a tax-rate reduction that could mean cuts to services and programs.

A Port Hawkesbury councillor is defending a tax-rate reduction that could mean cuts to services and programs.

In a 3-2 vote earlier this month, council agreed to drop residential tax rates by 16 cents per $100 of assessment, and commercial rates by 13 cents.

Coun. Ken Anderson put forward the motion to give property owners a break.

"I'm a firm believer that the taxpayer does a better job of spending their money than municipalities do, and we thought that we would maintain the level of tax dollars that taxpayers pay by reducing the tax rate to coincide with the increased assessments," he said Tuesday.

Anderson said an increase in property assessments left the town with an $180,000 surplus.

But Mayor Billy Joe MacLean said the town planned to use that money to meet its future needs.

MacLean said that reducing tax rates will mean less revenue, leaving the town with a shortfall of $350,000 and no choice but to cut its spending.

"I must say I am very frustrated about it," he said. "The trouble will come in 2012 and 2013."

Anderson said he's not worried.

"It doesn't necessarily mean 100 per-cent cuts. We have to increase our earned revenue other than from taxes as well as finding some efficiencies in our expenditures, which I am sure we can do," Anderson said.

Municipal staff will make recommendations to council in September.

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