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City of Saint John wants province to rethink property tax structure

Click to play video: 'City of Saint John wants province to rethink property tax structure'
City of Saint John wants province to rethink property tax structure
WATCH: The City of Saint John is asking the province of New Brunswick to reconsider how property taxes are assessed on businesses. One councillor says for businesses to be on-par with residential tax rates, the city would have to increase the property tax multiplier to nearly 1.8 times the assessed property value. Zack Power reports. – Jan 24, 2023
Click to play video: 'City of Saint John wants province to rethink property tax structure'
City of Saint John wants province to rethink property tax structure

The City of Saint John is looking to the provincial government to reconsider how property taxes are assessed on businesses throughout the province.

City staff said big businesses paid millions less than they would have before the changes the province introduced last year.

At a common council meeting on Monday, Coun. Gary Sullivan said that for the business to be on-par with residential tax rates, the city would have to increase the property tax multiplier to nearly 1.8 times the assessed property value.

Currently, the province has capped that at 1.7 times.

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“People who pay tax on the place they live (residential), that was a 12 per cent assessment increase, and in the end of it, they would have seen a six to seven per cent increase overall on their taxes from year-to-year,” Sullivan told Global News.

“The heavy industry and the businesses actually got a $3-million break overall.”

Sullivan said that the previous system had some believing they were being double taxed, with 1.5 times already set on by the city and the province taking their share.

“Even getting into the room the province vacated, we can’t get there because we need to be at 1.78,” Mayor Donna Reardon said.

“They vacated about 15 per cent, 10 per cent this year and five per cent last year.”

During the meeting, some city councillors said that the issue is a Saint John-centric problem, citing considerable industry growth throughout the area, leaving taxpayers to ease the burden.

Growth in the Port of Saint John, Saint John Energy and an airport expansion were cited.

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“I think it’s time the province realizes that we’re not doing something that will solely benefit Saint John. We’re actually asking for something that will benefit the entire province,” told Coun. Paula Radwan.

“Over the past few decades, the province has made a lot of investments in Moncton, and it’s time to do something different.”

Reardon said that the province has been responsive to the city’s feedback, and she is optimistic about hearing from the provincial government.

She said that the city is hoping to talk with provincial leaders about separating tax categories further from non-resident and heavy-industrials to something that would distinguish between local businesses and large retailers.

“It’s a big range,” said Coun. Sullivan after Monday’s meeting.

“Your corner store is very different from your Walmart. But, those two are considered non-residential taxpayers.”

Council is set to meet again for common council on Feb. 6.

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