Residents: tax increase too much, too fast

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Town of Amherst officials asked to reconsider deed transfer tax jump

AMHERST - An Amherst man is petitioning town council, urging it to reconsider its decision to increase the deed transfer tax.

"It's too late for my situation, but if it goes through it's going to have quite an impact on home buyers," said Greg Doucette, who hopes to present his petition to council during its June session on Monday. "The tax increase is not fair."
When the town brought down its 2009-10 operation budget a couple of weeks ago it announced plans to increase the deed transfer tax by 150 per cent from .05 per cent to 1.25 per cent.
Doucette understands the town needs to increase its revenues, but he thinks there has to be another way.
"I know they need to get more revenue to get more amenities to make the town more competitive, but this particular method of doing that puts the burden on a small number of people in town," said Doucette, whose online petition can be accessed at www.gregdoucette.ca.
In his case, the deed transfer tax on the home he's purchasing will go from $890 to $2,200.
Town council is expected to bring increased deed transfer tax to second reading at Monday's meeting, meaning if it's passed it could be implemented in a couple of weeks.
Realtor Kathy Morash from Coldwell Banker said the pending change has home buyers a little worried and has some rushing their purchases.
"I've got two closings that are closing Monday instead of a few weeks later in order to avoid it," she said. "It's going to have a big impact. It's too much, too fast."
With housing markets not in their best shape thanks to the recession, Morash feels this is not going to help and it could make it even more difficult for first-time homebuyers. Morash said first-time homebuyers are already scraping together their five per cent, now they're going to take another hit.
Mayor Robert Small understands there is some opposition, but the deed transfer tax in Amherst is still lower than the Municipality of Cumberland, which is at 1.5 per cent, and is lower than many other towns in Nova Scotia.
"The main reason we're doing it is to identify a source of funds that not every householder in Amherst has to cover the cost for," the mayor said, adding he doesn't feel it will impact housing development. "There are some that have a very low tax, but the majority are operating at a higher tax than us."
Doucette said the town shouldn't be looking at the deed tranfer tax in Halifax. Instead it should be looking at those municipalities the town is in competition with, such as Sackville and Moncton, where the tax is .25, and Oxford, which has no deed transfer tax.
dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Town council

Geographic location: Amherst, Nova Scotia, Halifax Moncton Oxford

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Recent comments

  • EColi
    January 18, 2010 - 11:23

    Bet the new mayor didn't tell you this was in his planning before the election.

  • Greg
    January 18, 2010 - 11:21

    Thanks for the great article Darrell. The mayor's comment about a source of funds that not every householder in Amherst has to cover the cost for is the main reason this tax is unfair. The funds are supposed to go to projects that everyone in town would benefit from. Why stick the bill on a handful of people who are doing exactly what the town needs them to do ... buying homes in the area!

    There is a lot more information on the petition site, so check it out! www.gregdoucette.ca

  • Greg
    January 18, 2010 - 11:21

    Tax Man, the deed transfer is something that needs to be done, but it's done by my lawyer through the Province of Nova Scotia, which I pay for separately from this tax.

    How can you justify that charging a large tax to a small group of people for services enjoyed by the entire population is fair.

    You absolutely CAN compare the communities that are in the same geographic location! If someone is offered a job at PolyCello, IMP, the hospital (after all, we are trying to bring doctors and nurses to the area) and they need to move to the area, they are going to look at Moncton, Sackville, Springhill, Oxford, etc as potential places to live. And if it is more attractive to live in these communities, not only does Amherst not benefit from the property tax that it could have gained, but all of the local businesses lose out on the economic benefit of those salaries. I would challenge you to survey the employees at PolyCello and find out how many of them actually live within the town boundaries.

    What actually sucks is that the entire tax system is based on property value and not on the actual services provided by the town. This is an antiquated system that does not address the need of the town or the people. There are much better systems. It's time for change.

  • 4 Years of NDP of H***
    January 18, 2010 - 11:19

    See what happens when the NDP become government. Same thing started to happen in Ontario and Manitoba. It's only going to get worse. Please Bob Hoskins, I don't need your unthinkable input on my statement either. The judgement of NDP H*** is here.

  • Not impressed
    January 18, 2010 - 11:01

    Mr. Small says its lower than the County of Cumberland (which hasn't been implemented yet) and is lower than many other Towns in NS. You best check your facts first Mr. Mayor, for example. Truro is at 0.5% and are in their second reading to increase to 1%, Town of Stewiacke - 1% and the entire County of Pictou, which includes the Town of NewGlasgow, Pictou, Westville, Stellarton, ect DOES NOT charge Deed Transfer tax AT ALL. When comparing services of Amherst to other areas doesn't everyone use Truro and New Glasgow for a comparison becasue they are most like us in geographic location and services they offer???

  • big daddie
    January 18, 2010 - 11:01

    now that why amherst got its self in a small pickle trying to rob the poor. let the real working class man and women run the town they could do a better job looks like the halie crew is still at work STAY TUNED THE SCANDLE HAS NOT EVEN HIT THE PAPERS YET

  • Greg
    January 18, 2010 - 10:58

    Good point, Spuddy. But there is another way. Create incentives to attract more businesses ... the businesses create jobs which attract more people ... increase the tax base and collect competitive (unchanged) tax rates from more people. But at the rate we are going, even if we do attract businesses, the people who come for the jobs will find it more attractive to live in neighbouring communities, so Amherst is no better off.

  • Ben
    January 18, 2010 - 10:56

    New Glasgow has a property tax rate of $1.77 and Truro is $1.72...

    source:

    http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/muns/fin/tax/pdf/nsmuntax2008-09.pdf

  • Greg
    January 18, 2010 - 10:52

    ...oh, and I might add that Cumberland County has not implemented their rate yet, but it is set to be adopted September 1. They are going from no tax to the full rate of 1.5%. There is still time for the residents of the county to fight back too.

    PS - If you guys need some help ... let me know

  • Bob
    January 18, 2010 - 10:48

    I will wait with bated breath big daddie.

  • SpuddyBuddy
    January 18, 2010 - 10:43

    When you think of it, as much as a higher deed tax is a pain to home buyers, not raising the tax could have mean another cent or two on the tax rate. Just remember, nothing in life is free and we have pretty good roads, a darn good water system, a good sewer system, professional fire and police services, a newly renovated stadium and we will have a new sewage treatment plant. That all costs money and it has to come from somewhere.

  • Amherstonian
    January 18, 2010 - 10:42

    But it is not fair to expect only the people who are buying in Amherst to pay to maintain/improve the items you mention. These are used by everyone in the town, not just new home owners. And besides that, you can buy a house in other areas with good roads (which Amherst does NOT have), professional fire and police services, etc., and still have a lower deed transfer tax, or no deed transfer tax at all.

  • The Tax Man Cometh
    January 18, 2010 - 10:38

    I got an idea. Lets do away with all the taxes, and open up a printing press to print the money required to provide sewers, water, roads, recreation, police services, fire services, and everything else that we expect to be provided to us at no cost.

    Greg, I understand how you feel, but dividing up the costs instead of just sticking it to the tax rate is the fair way, your deed transfer is a service that needs to be provided, you need to pay for it to have it done...thats life. You can't compare different communities just because the are in the same geographical region, because location, and size doesn't paint the whole picture.

    Look at the County of Cumberland and its huge tax base, same county, but a big difference in their municipal finances.

    Taxes pay for the services we demand, street lights, street plowing, parks, crossing gaurds, do we really need to be constantly reminded of all the things that need to be paid for? Why not just say...that sucks...

  • Greg
    January 18, 2010 - 10:37

    ... and Amherst is 1.67 ... and Moncton is 1.65 ... and Sackville is 1.55

  • EColi
    January 18, 2010 - 10:32

    Bet the new mayor didn't tell you this was in his planning before the election.

  • Amherstonian
    January 18, 2010 - 10:31

    Let's not forget what we are discussing here ... Deed Transfer Tax, not property tax.