N.B. Francophone leaders seek compensation over assessment freeze – New Brunswick

New Brunswick’s municipal leaders agree a recent property tax assessment freeze enacted by the province puts them under significant financial pressure, but while Francophone leaders are calling for immediate action, the mayors of the province’s largest cities are striking a more moderate tone.

The Francophone Association of New Brunswick’s Municipalities (AFMNB) met on Friday in Miramichi to talk about the estimated $14 million loss municipalities provincewide will face in 2018.

The group came up with three recommendations: 

  • financial compensation from the province; 
  • an emergency meeting with the provincial government to discuss solutions
  • that the AFMNB be included in the committee overhauling the property assessment system 

The mayors of Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton released a statement Friday saying they spoke privately about property tax assessment, but would not speak publicly. The statement expressed concern, but did not call for action. (CBC)

Luc Desjardins, mayor of Petit-Rocher, said he doesn’t want to be left holding the bill for the province’s mistake.

“We’re asking to have a program…to compensate the municipalities for these losses, because our expenses are fixed.

“We’re not allowed to have deficits but our expenses are raising every year and if we don’t have more revenues through the assessment…we’re going to be short changed.”

Serge Rouselle, minister of local government, said last week the property assessment tax freeze was meant to, “ensure public confidence is restored in the …assessment process.” (CBC)

Desjardins said the way things sit at the moment, many municipalities are facing tough choices.

“Somehow we’ll have to have the taxpayer pay, and the only way would be to reduce services, or else to raise the tax rate.”

53 municipalities are members of the AFMNB, many of them smaller communities.

But the province’s three largest centres did not echo the group’s sentiment.

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold, Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien and Saint John Mayor Don Darling met in Moncton Friday. They released a statement expressing a need for better understanding and a call to work together.

“Mayors Arnold, O’Brien and Darling expect a solution to be a win-win for the province and for the municipalities,” read the statement.

The mayors refused to answer questions from the media following the meeting.

The press release did not contain the language used in the AFMNB’s…

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