No, this isn’t about parking. They are still hopelessly braindead about the residential peninsula.
This is about tax reform! Council voted against a regressive overhaul of the tax system last night, hopefully killing the “fee-for-services” model once and for all. The municipal tax base is currently based on the appraised value of property, so people who own property (and tenants, through rent) pay taxes based on how valuable their property is. They wanted to change this system to a “service-based” system, which would see million-dollar mansion owners paying the same property taxes as thousand-dollar trailer owners, assuming provided services were the same.
Presumably this tax reform process was started to reduce the tax burden on rural property owners who own houses similar in value to urban- and suburbanites, but who don’t get much in the way of city services (homes with no bus service, properties that have their own well water and septic rather than city water and sewer systems, etc.). Also, the changes were presumably supposed to help out those property owners who have seen their property values grow enormously (>200% in some areas) even while their own income has only grown a tiny amount. Cost of living salary increases of 1-3% don’t help out much if your property tax assessment jumps 200% over 10 years.
Regardless of these issues, the tax reform before council was designed to reduce the burden on mansion owners while increasing it on the middle class family home owner. More equitable approaches to eliminate the lack of service to rural areas within HRM would presumably include rebates or zoning rules, rather than a flat fee-for-service system. The runaway property values could be dealt with by basing tax assessments on the owners original purchase price of the property. One could index tax assessments upwards based on cost-of-living increases rather than relying on real-estate booms and busts to reset assessments. New work done on old properties which increase their market values would have to somehow be included into this.
Anyway, I’m sure Tim Bousquet at The Coast will have plenty to say on this in tomorrow’s print and online issue. And he’ll be way more knowledgeable, clear, and thorough than me. 🙂