Adjustments to the province’s new non-resident provincial property tax announced recently by Premier Tim Houston haven’t convinced the Town of Amherst to support the new tax. The town is voicing its disapproval in a letter to the premier that is signed by Mayor David Kogon and was approved by the Amherst town council during a special session on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.
The provincial government has said they implemented the new property tax, and a five per cent deed transfer tax, in order to make housing more attainable and available, but the town says in the letter it opposes even the new adjusted non-resident property tax because no information or data has been made public that clearly defines the housing problem or “demonstrates how the initiative will solve it.”
The town considered the original rate of $2 per $100 of assessment to be excessive and that view didn’t change even after the province made the adjustments, the letter states.
While there are not many non-resident property owners in the town itself, the letter states there is a large number in the neighbouring Municipality of Cumberland who would be affected.
“These residents shop and purchase services within our town during the months of May-October,” the letter states. “The impact on our local businesses will be huge, and they have struggled the past two years due to COVID restrictions.”
The town also believes this new direct provincial property taxation is encroaching into the municipal tax base, which will result in property tax room being lost to municipalities that rely heavily on property taxation and do not have the authority to levy income or other more progressive taxes.
As a result, the town believed the proposed tax should be abandoned so that other, more refined measures to solve the housing issue can be developed with input from municipalities, relevant business sectors, associated business associations, such as Realtors and tourist organizations, and the community.
~ Contributed by the Town of Amherst
On Thursday May 5th, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston announced publicly that his government is reversing their decision on the new property tax for all non-residents who own property here in Nova Scotia. In a statement to the press, Houston said “So today I will put my personal pride to the side. This policy was an effort to find a solution.
It was always meant to be a tool to support housing. But when you realize that the tool you have in your hand might not get the job done, you look for another tool. I commit to finding a tool to make home affordability, particularly for first-time home buyers, a reality in this province.”
Town of Amherst Mayor David Kogon said “The spin-off dollars that are going to be spent by the people that come to our area for the summer season is enormous”, and we concur.
The negative effect of just the possibility of this increased tax being introduced was felt immediately. Thankfully, the potential loss of millions of dollars to our local economy here in Cumberland was averted when the premier officially announced the scrapping of this new tax.
Cumberland County is proud cottage country, and our local residents and business owners are looking forward to welcoming ALL property owners and short-stay visitors back to our beautiful shores this summer.