HALIFAX – After a few years of flat tax rates in Halifax Regional Municipality, could we be on the verge of an increase?
A four-year projection presented to councillors last week shows a gap between the amount of tax revenue that is to be collected, and the amount of money needed to run the city. Councillors were told if no changes are made, the city will end up $63 million short of tax revenue by 2020.
District 3 Councillor Bill Karsten told NEWS 95.7, “The fiscal framework, which we reviewed last week, does show we are going to have a $63 million dollar gap in taxes over the next 4 years.”
According to District 16 Councillor Tim Outhit, $63 million sounds like a lot of money, but compared to the overall city budget of $1 billion per year, it’s quite small.
“$63 million, out of $4 billion in spending over four years, is not a big number,” Outhit told NEW 95.7. “What we’re saying, is that if we did absolutely nothing over the next four years, out of that $4 billion in the budget, there is $63 million we would have to do something to find, by looking at efficiencies or raising taxes.”
Outhit said that by law, the city can’t run a budget deficit, so they will have to take a look at all of the options to get the numbers in line.
As for a tax increase, Outhit said staff are asking for 1.8 per cent increase in taxes next year. He said council asked staff to show options with no tax increase, some increase, and the maximum increase.
“We have to look at efficiencies, small tax increases, we have to look at a combination,” said Outhit.
He said regardless, the city remains on solid financial footing.