ST. NICHOLAS - The Rural Municipality of St. Nicholas is holding off, at least for now, on a plan to dramatically increase its property tax rate.
The community of a little more than 200 people, near Miscouche, is trying to find a way to maintain its independence and meet its obligations under the province’s new Municipalities Act.
One of those new requirements is to have a community office open and staffed at least 20 hours per week.
St. Nicholas council gave residents a few options as to how to move forward and the most popular was increasing the property tax to the point where the community could pay for the office and staffer.
At their most recent public meeting on the subject, council told residents that residential property tax rates would have to go up from 12 cents per $100 of assessed value, to about 52 cents per $100 of assessed value.
The increase would be introduced gradually in annual 10 cent increments.
“It would be a significant tax increase,” said acting Mayor Jason Woodbury.
Communities Minister Richard Brown was also in attendance at the meeting and took a lot of questions from concerned residents.
Brown, said Woodbury, expressed openness to potentially revisiting the need for communities to have their own staffed offices.
The minister’s office sent a clarification email in response to the Journal Pioneer’s request for a confirmation.
“The minister has said the first order of business is to get the elections over and the councils in place,” it stated.
“Once that has happened, the requirements will be reviewed and discussed with municipalities at the Federation of Municipalities to determine what, if any, changes will be made over the course of the next four years.”
There is enough ambiguity there that St. Nicholas has decided to hold off introducing any significant tax changes at least until after the Nov. 5 municipal election.
According to the Municipalities Act communities have four years to implement the need for an office and staffer.