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'We don’t take it lightly': N.B. town hikes property taxes over 10 per cent

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Residents in the Town of Salisbury, N.B., will see a significant property tax rate hike in 2024.

Mayor Rob Campbell said council had their reasons and didn’t have much of a choice, but residents in the rural community are not happy.

Council approved its general operating and utility budgets for 2024 this week and the amount that needs to be collected through property taxes is $1,498,446 more than it was last year.

That means an average increase of 10.6 per cent in property taxes for the coming year.

“We don't take it lightly,” said Campbell. “It was a very tough decision by council. Obviously, we're all residents of the community and we'll face the same increase, but it was a unanimous vote after looking at all the factors.”

One of those factors is the construction of a large fire station, the first large capital project in the community in over 20 years.

“We've been talking about the fire station for years. We've had a sign on Main Street that this is coming. We wanted shovels in the ground a couple of years ago, the province stopped us on that,” said Campbell. ”That's one of the biggest, largest reasons for the increase that we're seeing.”

Town CAO Austin Henderson said the municipality is also dealing with the same standard inflationary challenges as residents are.

Power, gas, equipment, supplies, and insurance rates for town vehicles are all on the rise.

Henderson said waste collection has risen 30 per cent and the RCMP costs alone for the town represent 20 per cent of all operating expenses.

“With a lower than average rate and a smaller tax base than many entities, the town has less flexibility than many municipalities to address the impact of rising costs, despite an increase in the property assessment base,” said Henderson in a statement to CTV News.

“In 2024, 84 per cent of the town’s costs are fixed and semi-fixed.

Residents understand a tax rate may be necessary given the municipality has grown since amalgamation last year, but 10.6 per cent is tough to swallow for some.

“It's a lot of money, especially with the cost of living right now,” said Salisbury resident Andrea Dryden. “It's just so high and families are just trying to get by. I know the community is growing, but 10.6 is a lot.”

Larry Layton also feels like it is a lot of money.

“I do see a new fire hall coming up. I don't see the need for it. It's going to be millions of dollars. Where is the money coming from?” said Layton.

Campbell said there is a definite need for a new fire hall.

“I'm very confident on this, if you talk to residents that fire station is something that they feel near and dear to and that is something that has to take place,” said Campbell.

Dave McGivery is having a hard time dealing with all the taxes.

“My gross pay and my net pay, there’s a huge disparity between the two. When you start knocking up more taxes and fees and licensing, what am I actually left with?” said McGivery.

The City of Moncton and the Town of Riverview have slightly lowered their tax rates, but they're much larger communities.

Henderson said town council approved the increase so the municipality is capable of delivering the services residents expect and require.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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