Halifax council approves municipal budget that includes 6.3% residential tax hike

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Halifax approves municipal budget that includes 6.3% residential tax hike
Halifax municipal councillors approved a more than $1-billion operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year. As Megan King reports, HRM residents will see an increase to their residential tax bill, which is a result of what staff call a “challenging budget year.” – Apr 23, 2024

Halifax councillors have unanimously approved a municipal budget that includes a $306.5-million capital plan and a 6.3 per cent increase in residential taxes.

The 2024-25 municipal budget, which also includes an operating budget of $1.04 billion, was passed by Halifax Regional Municipality’s regional council Tuesday.

“By and large, on this budget, we’ve been very prudent — the most prudent order of government — in how we balance what we have and what we need,” said Mayor Mike Savage.

Municipal staff noted “significant reductions” and adjustments were made during budget debates.

Ahead of budget deliberations, staff had recommended a 9.7 per cent hike in property taxes to cover a revenue shortfall of nearly $69 million.

Click to play video: 'Halifax councillors debate proposed property tax hike'
Halifax councillors debate proposed property tax hike

After much debate, and moving some funds around, a lower hike was decided. As well, the municipality will no longer be required to collect and remit taxes to the province for housing and corrections — which were charges that used to fall under the “provincial rate” section of tax bills.

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All this means the average residential tax bill will increase by 6.3 per cent, or about $214 for an average single-family home assessment value of $323,300.

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“I don’t want to put a burden on anybody, but the simple fact is that it would be a burden on people if we couldn’t afford the basic services that people need in this municipality. So, it is a balance,” said Mayor Savage in chambers about the tax increase.

Meanwhile, CAO Cathie O’Toole told councillors it had been a “challenging budget year.”

“Continued population growth and increased demand for municipal services and higher than normal inflation has added considerable amount of pressure to our financial planning,” she said.

In terms of spending, the budget includes $271 million for the Mill Cove Ferry Terminal project and $18.6 million for capital projects that are part of the HalifACT climate change plan.

Other highlights from the budget include $2 million for a fire station conversion in Hammonds Plains and $2.3 million in community safety programs and new positions within them. The budget also allots funding for 22 new Halifax Regional Police positions, six new RCMP officers and 10 new crossing guard positions.

Click to play video: 'Halifax councillors approve $98M police budget'
Halifax councillors approve $98M police budget

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