New Brunswick’s new Opposition has eyes on a bill that if passed, would see big business like Irving Oil cough up more in property taxes.
“It’s not just the refinery and it’s not just Irving there’s all kinds of heavy industry in [Saint John],” explains Liberal MLA Gerry Lowe.
The change would require an amendment to the New Brunswick Assessment Act, and allow heavy machinery and equipment to be included in the calculation of a property’s assessed value.
To put it simply, a higher value translates into more tax dollars.
It’s a move that is welcomed in Saint John, the province’s hub of commercial activity and energy resources, as the additional dollars could be applied to the city’s growing deficit.
Currently, residential taxpayers provide 61 per cent of the city’s annual budget.
“We called for reforms to 1960’s tax legislation in this province to call for more balance and fairness so we can get growing again,” said Don Darling, the mayor of Saint John.
The Liberals intend on delivering the bill next week and so far it appears to have support behind it from both the Green Party and the People’s Alliance, who say this type of tax reform is exactly what New Brunswicker’s need.
“Our property tax system is slanted to favour heavy industry and ensure that they have a very minimal property tax levels and that means everyone else is picking up the burden,” says David Coon, the Leader of the Green Party.
People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin says he’s on board but insists the legislation to back it needs to be just right.
“The balance has to be, to make sure that it’s done in such a way that you’re not going to choke out the smaller industries that are are in play that are already struggling,” he said.
The Conservative government said in a statement that they welcome the bill but say that it would be premature to provide an opinion on it as it hasn’t been introduced yet.
The Coalition of New Brunswick Employers is also waiting for more information before they choose to comment.
There’s a good chance the bill could pass as it appears it has support from both third parties, meaning it wouldn’t need to be endorsed by the Government.
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