Many Sackville residents are facing higher property taxes this year because the assessed market value of their homes has risen by an average of 7%, but Councillors Bill Evans and Sabine Dietz are urging their council colleagues to resist the temptation to give homeowners a break by lowering the property tax rate.
“Our job is to look after the interests of the whole community,” Evans told council on Monday night.
“I believe that a proposal to lower the tax rate might be popular but, for the reasons I’ve given, would not be in our best interests.”
In a statement he read to council, Evans gave three reasons for opposing a cut in the residential rate of $1.56 for each $100 of assessed property value.
- He argued that a tax cut would mean reductions in services
- He said it could cost the town hundreds of thousands of dollars while giving individual homeowners only a small monthly benefit
- And, he said a reduction in the tax rate would do little to help low-income residents including tenants.
Evans pointed out that people don’t like to pay taxes.
“And, it’s always tempting for politicians to say that they are against what people already don’t like,” he said.
“But, our job as councillors isn’t as simple as just doing what’s easy and popular. Our job is to do what is in the best interests of the entire municipality.”
For her part, Councillor Dietz said council had given town managers direction to maintain services in spite of rising costs.
She pointed out that the town and its unionized workers will be negotiating a new contract soon and that raises for the RCMP will also add to the town’s costs.
(Treasurer Michael Beal reported earlier that RCMP wages will rise $114,785 in 2022 and that the town would allocate an additional $120,000 next year to cover backpay retroactive to 2017. The RCMP salary increases were negotiated with the federal government as part of a collective agreement ratified in August.)
Dietz also argued that a cut in the tax rate wouldn’t do much for the poor.
“It will not help the people who need the help,” she said.
“There are two programs that the province has to try to offset the challenges of property taxes for low-income New Brunswickers,” she added.
Dietz said figures presented earlier by the Treasurer showed that cutting the tax rate would be of little benefit to homeowners.
In his presentation, Michael Beal said that a resident whose home is assessed at $100,000 would save $10.69 next year if the tax rate were cut by one cent; a two-cent reduction would save $21.39 and a three-cent cut would save a total of $32.08.
Beal said annual savings on a home assessed at $300,000 would amount to $32.08 (one cent reduction); $64.16 (two cents) and $96.25 (three cents).
Meantime, town revenues would fall by $70,000 (one cent reduction); $140,000 (two cents) and $210,000 (three cents).
Beal said that if the town wanted to completely offset the average 7% rise in property assessments, it would have to cut taxes by nine cents, a move that would reduce its revenues by about $630,000.
Mayor weighs in
“Growth will be our success in order to be able to sustain the services that we have come to expect,” Mayor Mesheau said as he concluded the discussion.
“If the expectations are to maintain the services that are in place, there’s going to be a higher burden placed on the residents of this community in order to tackle just everyday services,” he added.
Mesheau warned that municipal reform could impose additional costs if Sackville is required to provide services for neighbouring communities in local service districts.
He suggested that council has not been focusing enough attention on economic growth.
“When we have commercial infrastructure built, it, in itself, helps us reduce the residential burden and I think those are important things we have to look at as a municipality in the next year.”