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Businesses worry over possible tax hikes as city reviews budget

By Caitlin Snow Mar 7, 2024 | 1:27 PM

Businesses are concerned about a big hike in commercial property taxes, as Halifax council reviews the upcoming municipal budget.

City staff recommended a tax increase to 10 per cent in December but has since dropped that number to 8.9 per cent.

Still, the CEO of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce Patrick Sullivan says, he’s had a flurry of calls since then over the proposed jump.

“Many of those businesses were closed during the pandemic and they’re still recovering… they’ve just had to pay back their CEBA loans and they’re faced with a significant increase…almost double what inflation is right now.”

Sullivan says most businesses pay $45,000 in taxes, and last year’s tax increase alone, was $2,000.

“If you think of a 5 per cent margin, on a $40 meal, that’s almost 1,000 more meals, they’ve got to make. So, it’s a lot of money and a lot of effort that businesses are going to have to go through to cover the increased property taxes.”

Sullivan says the Chamber has more than 1,900 members and last week they presented these concerns to the city at one of their regular meetings, in hopes that they revisit the issue.

He also adds, they recognize cities are in a tough place with demands from the province to build much needed housing and maintain infrastructure.

However, the province doesn’t foot the bill-residents do-sometimes in advance.

He says there is clearly an opportunity here for the province to step up and negotiate a new deal with cities and towns across Nova Scotia.

The final review is set for April 23.