Tax reform news

Russell Walker's move to reverse implementation is derailed

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The misguided effort to shift the tax burden away from wealthy property owners and onto those of more modest means, which has been given the Orwellian label “tax reform,” took centre stage at Tuesday’s council meeting as Councillor Russell Walker asked council to rescind its December vote for funding new transit services.

As I reported at the time, in December council voted that “local transit routes should be funded by a single area rate on dwelling units paid by all properties within walking distance of transit service.” There is simply no other honest was to describe that vote than as back-door “tax reform” in a piecemeal fashion.

Formerly, transit, like most other city services, was paid for through the general tax assessment; the more valuable your house, the more you paid in tax. With the December vote, however, council was directing that all houses be taxed at the same amount for transit--- owners of a $60,000 hovel in Spryfield would pay the exact same tax as owners of a $3 million mansion overlooking Herring Cove.

Tax reform is the attempt to apply that ugly regressive logic across the board. If adopted, a north end starter home would the same in as a south end manor, a north Dartmouth working class abode the same as a high-end historic home in downtown Dartmouth.

Top city bureaucrat Dan English derailed Walker’s efforts Tuesday by out-of-the-blue announcing that the December vote didn’t really do what it, in fact, did. Council will at the April budget meetings get to look at both the traditional assessment-based tax and the proposed tax reform-based tax, and decide then which it prefers, said English. Council went along with the charade, ignoring Walker’s quite valid point that council had already made a decision, and the wrong one at that.

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