The recent property tax assessment freeze was one of several topics of discussion among the mayors of New Brunswick’s three major cities Friday, and one that has left all three concerned over the impact it will have on their respective communities. Story continues below
Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold, Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien and Saint John Mayor Don Darling met Friday morning to discuss demographics, fiscal policies and other strategies as part of their occasional meetings they’ve held since their May 2016 elections. When the property assessment freeze was announced last week, it was added to the agenda for the mayors to discuss.READ MORE: New Brunswick to freeze property assessments for 2018 while review is completedIn a news release provided by the cities, the mayors said they were concerned the change would “create a financial shortfall not only for the large urban areas, but for all municipalities.”Last week, the provincial government announced it would be freezing property tax assessments and would assign the task to a new independent agency.In March, a whistleblower alleged more than 2,000 property owners were given improper and inflated tax bills.Under the freeze, most tax bills next year should be the same as this year unless the tax rate changes.The release goes on to say the mayors will be calling on the province to get a better understanding of the financial impact and for the cities and government to work together to “find a common solution.”The provincial government responded later Friday, calling the assessment freeze the “fair choice.”READ MORE: Some New Brunswick residents shocked by large property tax assessment hikesIn a statement from Environment and Local Government Minister Serge Rousselle, he said the decision came down to two choices when the report into the assessment system was delayed from August to November. He said they could have either “allowed a flawed and error-prone system to continue,” or to freeze the assessments.The freeze, Rousselle said last week, would ensure predictability while an agency is established to handle the assessments, and auditor general Kim MacPherson reviews the system.He said they announced the freeze last week to give municipalities “over six months’ notice to allow them to plan.”Rousselle added that the assessment freeze would only apply for one year.— With files from Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
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