Skip to main content

Halifax explores lessening property tax hike


Halifax Regional Municipality councillors are looking to halve a proposed property tax hike.

At Friday’s budget committee, councillor Tony Mancini said he believes an eight per cent hike to average property tax bills is too high of a starting point.

Instead, Mancini brought forward a motion to have city staff look to build a budget based on a four per cent increase.

"We may end up at five or six [per cent]. We may end up lower or if we’re prepared to change services or reduce services we may even get below that four per cent," he said.

Halifax staff maintain that an eight per cent jump is necessary to sustain city operations without impacting services.

If approved by regional council, the average residential property bill would go up $173 each year for homeowners and $3,955 for businesses.

Halifax's Chief Financial Officer Jerry Blackwood outlined possible paths to get to a less than eight per cent increase.

They include reallocating some, or all, of the $20 million set aside for a stadium, as well as taking the $2 million reserved for the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Cuts to operations - such as road paving - are also being discussed.

Blackwood noted that $31 million needs to be saved in order to reduce the increase to four per cent, but he also warned even at a six per cent average property tax bill hike, taxes would have to rise next year to at least seven per cent.

"The decisions you make with this budget. I cannot stress how they will impact future budgets," Blackwood said.

Councillor Paul Russell, who also chairs the Budget Committee, wants to limit tax increases and notes he believes the 4.6 per cent hike from last year was too high.

"Nobody wants an increase of four per cent of their taxes. We know that it’s going to be tough," he said. "But I think this is the road we’re going to have to head down."

Russell added the pending carbon tax gives rebates to consumers but not municipalities.

While a four per cent hike is a starting point it may not be where the proposal ends.

"We might have to cut services, we might have to cut some programs. We might have to not do some things that we had hoped to do," Russell said.

Over the next five months, each business unit will be assessed for its costs and wants—all to be added to a shopping list that will be considered by the city.

"We’ll look at that list at the end and bring that into the budget and that would form the final tax rate which we won’t really know until the end of March, the beginning of April," Russell said. Top Stories

Stay Connected