County makes it official - commercial and residential taxes are going up

Monique Chiasson
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TRURO - Reaching a balanced general operations budget for Colchester County means raising commercial and residential taxes.
Colchester County council passed a balanced budget for 2009/10 last night, equalling more than $21 million.
Creating that budget resulted partially in raising the residential property tax by five cents to 79 cents on each $100 of the assessed value.
The average homeowner in the county will see an annual cost increase of about $42.50, or $3.50 per month. The average home in the county has an assessed value of about $85,000.
The commercial rate will increase by 10 cents to $2.10 of the assessed value of $100.
"The commercial tax rate increase will only recover the loss of taxes due to the elimination of business occupancy taxes," said Mayor Bob Taylor.
This year alone about $320,000 in commercial taxes will be lost due to the phasing out and elimination of the business occupancy tax.
Counc. Christine Blair was not pleased with the residential tax increase and voted against the motion.
"A five cent increase is huge in one year ... we are in a recession," said Blair. "If we have to revisit the budget to make it less of an increase then so be it."
Counc. Earl McKenna agreed.
"It's too much too quick ... we have to consider people have lost jobs" due to the current economic crisis.
Deputy mayor Ron Cavanaugh also voted against the motion.
Other councillors said the county has to pay its bills as well and has offered financial help to many worthy organizations, including policing and education.
"If we provide the services residents expect that's what we have to do," said Counc. Karen MacKenzie, defending the rate increases.
"In order to have growth we need to support those needing more money," said Counc. Bill Masters.
"Not once in four years on council have I had anyone complain to me about taxes."
Tim Tucker, executive director of the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce, urged council to reconsider its proposed budget before voting.
"I fully understand the need for a source of revenue but it's the wrong time for a 10-cent increase with the current economic conditions and global uncertainty," said Tucker. "If you have businesses looking to relocate and see a 10-cent increase it's a deterrent and can hinder economic growth."
Tucker told the Truro Daily News while he doesn't believe the commercial rate increase will "be the difference between sink or swim" it is disheartening. Also, for the homeowner,
he said, "this is just one more increased cost" that is adding to the economic strain for many people.

Organizations: Colchester County council, Truro and District Chamber of Commerce, Truro Daily News

Geographic location: Colchester County

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