Municipalities in New Brunswick say a long-term plan is needed when it comes to tax policy in the province.
The Gallant government has introduced legislation that will freeze property tax assessments for most people in 2018.
The freeze is not being welcomed in cities like cash-strapped Saint John, whose mayor says a bigger fix is needed.
“We need tax reform,” said Don Darling. “We need the ability to generate revenue.”
Darling is looking to a 2018 budget which could be approved Monday night, one he calls likely the toughest in the city’s history. That budget comes with the knowledge that, with a few exceptions, property tax assessments will be frozen at 2017 levels next year.
The province introduced legislation to that effect on Tuesday.
It comes in a year where thousands of New Brunswickers received property tax bills that were highly inflated and incorrect.
According to Darling, the freeze is not good news for municipalities. He says it guarantees that revenues will not grow for communities in the province. But Darling says it does illustrate a point about taxation in New Brunswick.
“We do believe that there are changes needed to the whole approach to tax,” he said.
“As you know the city has put a tax reform document on the table around what we call tax fairness”
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Fairness is what the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick is calling for as well.
“If a freeze is going to help us get this thing straightened out, fine,” said Bev Gaston, the organization’s president and the mayor of Doaktown.
“Long term we want to be part of the fix in some way so that anything that’s done within the taxation system that affects municipalities, we have a say in it”.
Gaston says one of the key issues is long-term funding so municipalities can plan ahead better.
“If you’re planning on building a water system, (or) a road that’s going to take over five or six years then you need to know the money that you’re going to have over that period of time”.
There’s no word when or if a revamping of the tax system in New Brunswick will take place.