June 24, 2013 - CCI-Nova Scotia Chapter News
Fair Taxation Initiative
HRM Elections - Property Tax Reform Questionnaire - Summary of Responses
"THE PROPERTY TAX REFORM - WHAT IS YOUR POSITION" questionnaire developed by CCI and CONS was e-mailed to all the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) candidates for Mayor and Council who's e-mail address was listed on the HRM Website. This means that five (5) of the six (6) candidates for Mayor received it and forty-eight (48) of the fifty-nine (59) candidates for Council.
Candidates for Mayor
Fred Connors responded with a written response in support of Fair Tax. Fred Connors, Tom Martin, and Mike Savage spoke at the CCI Annual General Meeting and all supported opening up the discussion on Fair Tax.
Candidates for Council
Sixteen (19) of the forty-eight (48) candidates for council responded to the e-mail. Most of them completed the questionnaire but a few chose to provide an open response directly in the text of their e-mail or verbally via telephone. All of them indicated, to varying degrees, that the issue of tax reform (or review) needed to be placed on the agenda for Council shortly after the election. There was general support among the respondents for the VISION developed by CCI and CONS and for the need to address the issue of Fair Taxation.
The objective of the Fair Tax initiative undertaken by CCI and CONS was to raise awareness of the taxation issue and gain a commitment that the matter would be placed on the HRM Council agenda shortly after the election. We asked that a Stakeholder Advisory Committee be appointed for input into the process. Fair Taxation is certainly an issue during the campaign and, while CCI and CONS can't take all the credit, the initiative has had a positive result. It now remains to "keep their feet to the fire", so to speak now that the new Council is in office.
Recent Action by Council
In April, 2013, a motion introduced by Councillor Bill Karsten did get taxation reform on the HRM agenda and staff are currently preparing a report for Council to be presented with in the next six months. CCI and CONS have indicated on several occasions a willingness to assist HRM staff in any way staff would deem appropriate. We are waiting for the response from staff but in the meantime gathering information from across Canada on the current approach to taxation of condos in each Province.
It is important to note that HRM is not revolutionary in its attempts to study tax reform. Markham, Hamilton and Halton in Ontario have done extensive work in this area. These Councils have approved many areas of taxation reform. Calgary also has been extensively involved in taxation reform. The Saskatchewan Chapter is also aggressively pursuing taxation reform.
We recognize that this is also an issue in other Nova Scotia Municipalities. However, changes in HRM will either directly impact on other municipalities, if access to additional sources of revenue is realized, and provide data to be used in bringing about changes in other parts of the Province.