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Darrell Cole
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Businesses plan to welcome finance minister by lobbying to keep HST from increasing

Signing off

AMHERST - Robert Bird believes Amherst needs to have a Boston Tea Party moment when it comes to sending a message to the province about possibly increasing the harmonized sales tax by two per cent to battle the deficit.
"There comes a time when people have to say enough is enough. I think we've reached that point," said Bird, who is urging local businesses to use their portable signs to ask Finance Minister Graham Steele not to increase the tax. "We want to give the minister a warm welcome to town and tell him in no uncertain terms that nobody around here supports any kind of a tax increase."
Steele will be in Amherst on Monday to speak at the Amherst Lions Club as part of his Back to Balance provincial tour. The meeting runs from 7-9 p.m., and Bird is hoping retailers and members of the public will show up in force to let the minister know the town can't afford a tax increase.
Bird, a financial planner and town councillor, said the potential tax increase will be bad for business and has the potential to force more shoppers across the border to stores in New Brunswick.
While he understands the need to clean up the province's finances, Bird feels it's up to government to fix its own mess without turning to the public all the time.
And considering how MLAs have mismanaged their expenses, he feels the province owes it to Nova Scotians to fix the budget without hiking taxes.
"Two per cent is just another gouge we cannot afford. It's like death by a thousand cuts to the small businesses and the mom-and-pop operations," Bird said.
"This won't impact the Wal-Marts of the world, but two per cent off the bottom line will cut into already small margins for small business owners."
Jeff Brennan of Fort Equipment is watching the situation very closely and is worried what the increase could mean.
"More than half of our business comes from Westmorland County and then we have a lot of people from here that we could lose as well," Brennan said. "It's something we're worried about."
His business that specializes in farm equipment and lawn and garden products has already taken a hit from the struggling fortunes of the agriculture industry. He's not prepared to say a tax hit could threaten the business, but it won't help it either.
Brennan said New Brunswickers who purchase material at Fort Equipment and have it delivered to their home or address pay the New Brunswick tax. However, he said, many customers may not know that and could turn to their competition.
Amherst Mayor Rob Small said council hasn't meet to discuss the issue, but he personally is afraid of what the increase could mean to this community and the rest of the province.
"Adding two per cent to the HST is going to cause a lot of pain," he said. "We just had the utility and review board here to talk about the tax on gas and now you're talking about another two per cent on the HST. It's going to be very detrimental."
Small is hoping the minister will take a long look at government operations before proceeding with the tax increase.

Organizations: Boston Tea Party, Amherst Lions Club, Wal-Marts

Geographic location: AMHERST, New Brunswick, Nova Scotians Westmorland County

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Recent comments

  • Robert
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    It's not just the MLA's that waste money. The health care system, the education system, transportation and justice systems have become bloated and wasteful. An immediate hiring freeze, and a stop to gold plated severance and consulting arrangements for retiring civil servants will solve the deficit problem is a few short years. Also please keep in mind that our current deficit represents about 6.5% of the provinces total budget. Is it unreasonable to assume that if MLA spending and expense controls are so out of whack, perhaps they are also out of whack in other areas of government as well? Is there not 6.5% waste in government?

  • Fuzzy Bear
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Joe...Joe Joe....your last name says it all! You have got to be kidding. When a company hires a CEO or Manager to manage their business they expect him to act and handle their affairs in a professional and dignified manner. How can we be blamed for the *MESS* our governments have gotten us into. We are not on a board of directors, we are not on the finiancial committies, we are not working there on a day to day basis to see what is happening behind the scenes. However we should be able to expect no less from our MLA's than what any company would see with their newly hired managers.
    However this is not the case, our politicians many of which are lawyers and higher profile people in their communities have totally made a mockery out of business ethics. They have squandered, misapproporiated, wasted, and in come cases outright taken money from our business for their own personal gain. This is not new it has been happening for many years.
    Instead of dumping this burden back on us you should be mad as He** at the same self interest groups you help put there over and over.
    Raising taxes time and time again is not the answer. Our government needs to get tough period. Stop their own MLA wastes, stop bailouts to money losing companies, look at every government funded program and review its benefits to our society. While some of them may be a nice side dish to our meal they only serve a small minority at our table. There is no doubt that in a financial crisis that programs may need to be cut to the bone or eliminated. And yes this will mean lost jobs, and hardships for a minority however the majority will benefit in the long run.
    We cannot continue to spend like a millionnaire when we make $25,000 a year. Wise up government you and only you are out of control. Stop the Bleeding Now!

  • The dude
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    The problem for NS is quite simple. We already spend too much on heath care, and we are going to spend a lot more as out population ages. unfortuntely, tax revenues are going to start to decline (as the population is actually going down in NS, and the people will be retirees who don't pay a lot in tax but who do require a lot of services - in particular heath).

    Therefore - a tax increase is only a short term fix - we will be back in the same position in 3 years time if we raise the HST now. What we need is a plan to import a ton of new people, a plan to get a whole lot more revenue from the federal government, or a plan to significantly reduce the cost of the services currently being delivered in NS.

    not rocket science. The likelihood of 1 or 2 occuring is remote. We are going to have to cut the cost of service delivery significantly.

  • Jim
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Good points Robert(s). The PPP schooling system was recently bashed from the auditor general as well saying that the politicians have done a disservice to the students and public. This is OUR problem only if we let them put it on us. THis is THIER fault. We need some qualified, ethical WORKERs in our political system. Not spenders and wasters who do nothing but pass the buck to the taxpayer. It is rediculous that we have such high taxes - generally, we have such low incomes that it is hard for the average joe (not that idiot joe blow) to make ends meet. Will the province not be happy until all nova scotians are on wellfare? Because a tax hike will reduce business investments and we'll probably see some businesses close because of the extra strain. That means more out of work people. I can't beleive they even have the nerve to talk about increasing taxes so soon after being busted for missapporpriations of funds!

  • lb
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    cigs 8 bux a pkg
    gas .98 L

    NB here i come :)

  • Joe
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    So it seems to me that Bird is right all we gotta do is just eliminate waste. That's the answer and maybe privative our services. I mean private companies will serve the people better though they are less accountable for their actions.

    I like the idea brought forward by Sparky it makes little sense to have so much representation. Funny how no party or person runs on such a platform. Wonder why that is.... you'd think people would vote for him.

    The dude is right we need more people to pay taxes unfortunately no one is coming and there is less and less of us paying taxes. So we'll have to do with less service.
    That seems to be bottom line...more tax to maintain what we got or live with less services so that we live within our means?

    Mr. Bird care to run on that platform in a provincial election? I doubt you would. Spin it by saying eliminating waste is all we need do when the real truth is we have to live with less. Where are the politicans who tell us hard truths?

    No where....not even Bird.

  • Robert
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    No, Joe, the best way to increase revenue is NOT to raise taxes (as this makes investment in our province, either through business attraction or population migration, unattractive). The best way is to get our house under control and stop the bleeding of the public purse. Too much is wasted on everything form massive perks to unprofitable investment sinkholes. There is a massive amount of pork that can be trimmed from the NS budget but they won't do it because someone isn't going to like it and they'll lose votes/seats.

    If they can get the house under control, the budget under control and slash and burn all the waste and we STILL are losing money... I'll agree to a tax hike then.

  • Peter
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Raise the tax another 2%!!!
    Suck the consumer dry fianancially!!!!!
    Then nobody will be paying their mortgages. People will be forced to shop at bargain shops & used clothing stores.
    The bottom will fall out of the retail
    industry. Oh-No now what - hey maybe
    a scuabillion dollar bailout package for
    the retail industry. But how will we pay for it - well we could raise taxes...

  • Joe
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Its doubtful the Provincial Government will go ahead with an HST increase. Its a good idea but only if all the maritimes are on board. It makes sense from a taxation policy point of view to focus on consumption taxes (i.e. taxes on things we buy). Ask any economist or expert on the matter. Consumption taxes like the HST are the fairest best way to raise revenue for our way of communal living. Income taxes are not fair. I'd sooner have zero income tax and all consumption taxes.

    Anywhoo...What options do our representatives have in tackling OUR economic mess? Make no mistake this isn't the Governments mess its OUR mess and we hire people to manage it. Unfortunately smart decisions are politicized and are never implemented because we'd rather live in our mess than have someone hose us down.

    In any event what the government should do is, survey says.....NOTHING! If only we could fire or replace the employers. Recent ADN survey said something along the lines that if raising taxes would lift Nova Scotia out of the economic mess its in would you agree to a tax hike? Majority said no.

    If a baby has a dirty diaper we change it. If our personal finances are in a mess we do some sort of combination of making more money and cutting costs. IN short we do something. What suggestions do people have to tackle OUR deficit?

  • ME
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    EDITED BY MODERATOR: NDP colors starting to show... they haven't run anything before, and they are just messing it all up now on their first try. Prorogue in NS? Nice start losers. Please just stop spending so much, and stay within your budget.

  • Donald
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Wow 2% more on everything we buy.We need to stop this and join together as a STRONG group that say NO WAY.Cumberland is going to bleed and i will speakup and if we all do maybe they will listen..............

  • sparky00
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    well said Robert, and i agree totally. Joe Blow, here are some things to think about when it comes to cleaning house.
    Ontario has a population of over 12 million people, and only 107 mla's. Nova Scotia has 52 MLA's for just under a million people. i think there is a bit of a discrepancy here. And let's not even get into the mess of the HRM.
    The way i see it is that if this keeps going the way it is looking, i'll soon be relocating somewhere other than NS, and taking my tax dollars with me.