Tim Bousquet's "Why everyone loses under the city's property tax plan" (December 10) is an excellent article and those who read it will understand much about the tax reform plan and why it can't possibly work.
My first question is: why haven't the powers that be requested information on tax reform from similar-sized areas, so that efforts taken by HRM will not need to be duplicated? Why hasn't HRM sought from like communities what is working for them, and what is not, what has been tried and what has been determined as a failure?
From the information provided, I believe that what HRM has come up with is a complete disaster. It doesn't represent either the rich or the poor property holders.
HRM has only been working on this project, in darkness, for some years; and at the rate they are proceeding, they will need at least that much time, and possibly more, to get it right. —Muriel McNairn, HalifaxThe rural jury
There is one aspect of tax reform that Tim Bousquet doesn't look at in his excellent article: the level of services in rural areas.
I live in a coastal area of the former Halifax County. Until the cap, assessments increased dramatically every year. Meanwhile, residents complain that they receive few city services---no city water, a fire department that was all-volunteer until recently, garbage collection only every two weeks.
In this scenario, it's likely people in a rural area would support a proposal that claims you pay for the services you receive. They feel that they don't receive a heck of a lot, so they would assume their taxes would go down. But anyone supporting the reform for that reason is likely in for a shock. If the cost of solid waste collection is simply divided by number of households with no regard for frequency, then I would guess rural residents are unlikely to benefit.
And in an area like ours, the idea of each household paying the same amount in municipal taxes makes a mockery of the reason the cap was brought in in the first place---to protect people in modest homes from the tax shock caused by ever-increasing assessments on their coastal properties. Now they will find their assessments capped, but the people living in a mobile home will be paying the same in tax as their neighbours with a mansion across the cove. Doesn't make much sense to me.
—Philip Moscovitch, Glen Margaret