Sackville Town Council is getting ready to launch a campaign this week seeking more than $865,000 in additional tax money from the federal and provincial governments.
Councillors are expected to endorse a series of resolutions on Monday supporting other municipalities seeking relief from provincial property and sales taxes as well as a permanent doubling of the federal gas tax fund that pays for local infrastructure projects including street paving.
“Everyone knows that we pay provincial property tax on properties that we own,” Treasurer Michael Beal told council last week. “In 2019, we paid $276,000 in provincial property tax.”
The treasurer went on to say that while certain municipal properties such as libraries and rinks are exempt from provincial property taxes, other essential services such as water and sewer facilities are not.
And even though volunteer fire departments are tax exempt, Sackville must pay property taxes on its station because the town has a full-time fire chief.
Beal said he will be asking council to endorse a resolution calling on the Union of New Brunswick Municipalities (UMNB) to formally ask the province for more municipal property tax exemptions.
“Beginning in 2020 all fire station properties and also beginning in 2020 all water, stormwater and wastewater properties would be tax exempt,” he said, adding that the resolution calls on the UMNB to work on exemptions for other municipal properties after that.
“As we’ve said many times, the province doesn’t provide many services to us related to property tax,” Beal said, adding that after the last election, the new Higgs government said it would be looking at eliminating so-called double municipal and provincial taxation on non-owner occupied residential buildings.
“So, if they’re looking at it, now would be a good opportunity to say well, why should municipalities pay the province a property tax if you’re looking at reducing it for other people?” he asked.
[Note: In 2019, non-owner occupied residential buildings in Sackville are taxed at a provincial rate of $1.1233 per $100 of assessment as well as a municipal rate of $1.56. For more information, click here.]
Provincial sales taxes
Beal will also be asking councillors to endorse a resolution calling on the province to eliminate the sales taxes (HST) that municipal governments in New Brunswick pay on the goods and services they purchase.
He said that municipalities stopped paying the federal portion of the HST in 2004, but continue to pay part of the provincial levy. It means that this year Sackville will owe the province about $221,771 in HST payments.
[Note: Although it’s not clear how the Higgs government would react to pleas for property and sales tax relief from UMNB, the premier promised during last year’s election campaign to give local governments more autonomy including new taxation powers. The PC government has also indicated that some parts of the recent plan on restructuring municipal government in Saint John could also apply in other parts of the province.]
Doubled gas tax funding
Finally, Sackville’s treasurer will ask councillors on Monday to endorse a resolution calling on UMNB to support a permanent doubling of the federal gas tax fund that municipalities receive every year for infrastructure projects.
The Trudeau government announced a one-time doubling of the fund this year. It meant that Sackville received $414,000 on top of its regular grant of $367,359. (To see a chart showing how Sackville has been using the gas tax fund, click here.)
Last month, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) called on all federal parties running in this fall’s election to commit themselves to doubling the gas tax funds allocated for municipal projects.
To read the FCM news release, click here.
If Sackville Town Council endorses these resolutions on Monday, the mayor and councillors will likely seek approval for them at the UMNB’s annual conference in Fredericton, October 4-6.