Senior citizens who own homes in Masset could face a tax hike as high as 45 per cent if the province goes through with plans to make small communities foot more of the bill for police services.
That’s what Masset administrator Trevor Jarvis told council members Monday (Jan. 6), after village staff crunched some numbers to figure out the impact of the police plan on residents.
The province has been vague about exact figures, Mr. Jarvis said, so his numbers are only rough estimates. But those rough estimates show that seniors who are normally eligible for a substantial homeowner grant will face the highest percentage increase in their property taxes.
Right now, Masset pays nothing directly for police services, like other communities with less than 5,000 people (the service is provided by the provincial and federal governments, through taxes that everyone pays). The provincial government wants to change that, forcing the small communities to take on more of that expense directly.
According to a discussion paper by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, the tax increase for an average home would be between $44 and $126 per year. The discussion paper also pointed out that property taxpayers in large towns pay an average $164 per capita for their municipal police services.
Mr. Jarvis estimated the police plan could cost Masset an extra $35,000 to $55,000 a year, a cost which would have to be passed on to taxpayers.
“These are just estimates, because the discussion paper has no hard numbers in it,” Mr. Jarvis cautioned.
“Why are they targetting homeowners?” asked councillor Rollie Wheeler. “The cost should be shared equally among all citizens of a community.”
Councillor Lorrie Joron suggested the money would be better spent on preventative measures, so that fewer police would be needed in the first place.
Council members voted to send a letter to Solicitor General Rich Coleman, voicing strong opposition to the proposed downloading of police costs and saying police services should be paid for by everyone, not just property owners.
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