Amherst offers tax relief

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Residential rate down one cent per $100 assessment, commercial rate down five cents

Amherst is lower both residential and commercial tax rates in the 2012-13 budget while reducing the downtown area rate to zero.

AMHERST – Despite increasing costs, Amherst is lowering taxes.

Amherst council passed its 2012-13 budget during a special meeting here Wednesday that includes a one cent reduction in its residential tax rate to $1.66 per $100 taxable assessment, while its commercial tax rate is dropping by five cents to $4.55 per $100 assessment.

Amherst is also eliminating its downtown area rate for this year.

“When we started down the budget path this year, we did so with a hold the line state of mind. However, a meeting with the downtown business community just last week convinced us to pause and reflect on the significant challenges that that group, that all businesses for that matter, are facing in these rough economic times,” Mayor Robert Small said.

“The message to us was loud and clear, they need some relief, any relief from taxes. With that in mind, the budget as proposed features the reduction, for this year, of the downtown area rate to zero, as well as the reduction of the commercial tax rate.”

While the reduction in the residential rate isn’t much, the mayor said, it’s a start and recognizes the challenges taxpayers face. It also reflects the additional cost the town is placing on users of the sewer system with the increased costs of operating the new wastewater treatment facility slated for opening later in the spring.

Taxpayers are seeing an 18 per cent increase in sewer charges with residential rates rising to 99 cents per cubic metre of water consumption and 49 cents per cubic metre for commercial users.

The solid waste management uniform charge is staying at $174 per dwelling unit.

“When we embarked down the path of achieving our strategic objectives, we added a penny to the rate to partially fund those activities,” the mayor said. “This modest reduction comes as we wind down the work on these objectives, which we have largely achieved.”

CAO Greg Herrett said residential capped assessment grew by 5.6 per cent this year, representing an $18.5-million increase, yielding $300,000 in additional tax revenue. With 73 per cent of its residential accounts eligible for the assessment cap, the town is seeing some growth in residential assessment.

“Suffice it to say though, the cap program remains a challenge to all municipal units in Nova Scotia,” Herrett said.

Commercial assessment is down by 2.2 per cent, mainly because of successful appeals.

Herrett said the budget includes a 1.7 per cent increase in expenditures. Wages and benefits are expected to rise by 3.4 per cent as cost of living increases for both unionized and non-unionized employees take effect.

The town is also seeing increased costs because of the elimination of the provincial Memorandum of Understanding relating to housing, education and corrections. Amherst’s contributions are increasing by about a quarter of a million dollars.

Council also approved a $6.4-million capital budget that continues several strategic priorities in the downtown ($1.04 million), building improvements ($919,040) – including the Dominion Building and properties at 10 Princess St. and 85 Church St., streets ($482,400) and sanitary sewer – including completion of the wastewater treatment plant ($3.3 million).

dcole@amherstdaily.com

 

Organizations: Amherst council, Dominion Building

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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  • Fuzzy Bear
    May 26, 2012 - 08:06

    Only three sentences grab my attention in this article..... 1- Despite increasing costs, Amherst is lowering taxes. 2- Taxpayers are seeing an 18 per cent increase in sewer charges with residential rates rising to 99 cents per cubic metre of water consumption and 49 cents per cubic metre for commercial users 3 - CAO Greg Herrett said residential capped assessment grew by 5.6 per cent this year, representing an $18.5-million increase, yielding $300,000 in additional tax revenue. Confusing huh....ahhhh I think I've got the answer......its political jargon like this quote from the good book describes! "Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake, and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sightes and your mind imagine confusing things."

  • Alexis
    May 25, 2012 - 12:16

    A change is in the air...

  • bb
    May 24, 2012 - 20:16

    I would hope that a Mayor could do simple math and see that every home will be paying more tax for this year than the year before. I am tired of being taxed to death. Enjoy your first and only term of Mayor . I can't wait to vote for anyone else.

  • Sublime
    May 24, 2012 - 13:35

    Hey Rob, I don't have a problem with the fact that they lowered it, nor would I have a problem with them raising it by a penny. My issue is with marketing it as tax relief when it is simply being offset by other charges ... which is more a problem with the media than with the town. All things being considered, there are better ways to give back to the community then a one cent decrease, but hey, it'll look good on the councillors who run for re-election this fall.

  • Sublime
    May 24, 2012 - 10:28

    a one cent reduction on the residential rate means that on a home worth $100K, you will save a whopping $10/year ... thanks to town council, I will now be able to buy one more small double double every other month. Oh wait, now I have to pay $50-60 a year for sewage treatment ... "Amherst Offers Tax Relief" I don't see it

    • Rob
      May 24, 2012 - 13:14

      Man... there's just no making people happy. If they raised it... what would your post say then? I imagine it would be a bad post if they lowered it, a bad post if it didn't change at all or a bad post if they increased it. I'm betting you wouldn't have anything good to say no matter what they did. So... what's it gonna be? At least Amherst is lowering it... most places are raising it or, at best, keeping it the same. Be happy that *small double double* that is going back to you and not being tossed into an increase. Man... there's just no pleasing some folks...

  • peter
    May 24, 2012 - 08:30

    So dropping the tax rate by one cent for residential, while uping the water and sewer by 18 percent is suppose to be holding the line!!!! Don`t do us anymore favors. The water and sewer increase should be no more than the inflation rate. Got to love government at any level, not practicing what they preach.

  • mike
    May 24, 2012 - 08:22

    The one cent reduction should help with the 18% increase on sewer charges ????????