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Unfair equalization a major factor in region’s decline

August 28th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s Integrated Community Sustainability Plan documents the vast range of expenditures that municipalities make in providing their services. The definition of standard expenditures contained in the Municipal Grants Act covers only a fraction of actual municipal expenditures each year.

If the provincial government, however, was fully funding the services provided by municipalities under an adequate equalization program, the municipal grants would have to be at least three times their current levels.
For example, the report cites the year 2006-07 where Class 1 standard expenditures were funded $303,810,320 when the actual expenditures by municipalities were $924,772,582 (pp.72-3)

Meanwhile, the deafening roar of silence from local MLAs and MPs of all parties continues while CBRM residents are paying approximately $18 million more in property taxes than comparable properties in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

When, for example, a resident in Sydney in 2008-09, with a property assessed at $100,000, pays about $882 more annually than the equivalent-assessed property in HRM, where were the outcries of unfairness from your MLAs?

This unfair equalization policy of the provincial government, supported by all provincial political parties and aided and abetted by the federal government’s Pontius Pilot stance of annually washing its hands of its responsibility, has been a major factor to CBRM’s economic decline.

Due to this government policy, the resultant gloomy economic future depicted in CBRM’s sustainability plan has CBRM officials calling for the people to seriously consider a political restructuring so that decisions affecting their economic survival will be in their own hands. “This process would culminate in a plebiscite on the creation of a regional government with broad responsibility for the delivery of all provincial and municipal services in the region.” (p. 140).

The newly elected provincial government, however, has an opportunity to comply with Section 36 of the Constitution Act of 1982 in its coming fall budget. If it fails to do so, the residents will have to seriously proceed with the recommendation in the sustainability report to democratically demand control over their own self-determination.

Charles W. Sampson
Sydney Forks
Nova Scotians for Equalization Fairness


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