Halifax Regional Municipality considers property tax increase
The Halifax Regional Municipality is considering a property tax increase of nearly six per cent.
"Staff proposed 5.9 per cent," said Mayor Mike Savage. "Two-point-nine per cent on the operating cost."
The remaining three per cent would help fund Halifax's Climate Change Program.
"We have asked for an alternative, for a total of 3.7 per cent," said Savage.
Savage says any debate around this issue does not diminish the city's environmental priorities.
"It is going to benefit generations to come," said Savage. "There may be other ways to pay for it. We may end up below 3.7 per cent and it may end up about 3.7 per cent. Many council members indicated they are not comfortable with 5.9 per cent."
Kevin Russell from the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia said proposed tax increase would come at the worst possible time.
"Investment property owners owning rental units are under a two per cent cap that was mandated by the provincial government," said Russell, who added other expenses are on the rise. "They are small landlords, owner operators and they are really feeling the pinch. They don't have the capacity to keep incurring these increases."
Matt Hornsberger, president of Royal LePage Atlantic, says if rental property owners continue to feel the pinch, they may sell properties, which he predicted would negatively affect the real estate market.
"We are obviously in a housing shortage right now," said Hornsberger. "We want people to be attracted to come to Halifax to build more housing stock."
Seniors advocate Bill VanGorder said a steep property tax increase would also hurt those who have structured retirement plans around equity in their homes.
"People are already worried that they are going to outlive their money," said VanGorder. "This is just another taking away of income that they were expected to have."
A property tax increase will not come before the final HRM approved budget.