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Citizens aim to improve grasp of equalization

August 22nd, 2009

Cape Breton Post August 4 2009

The taxpayers of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality are very much concerned about the $105 million debt. How in the world are we going to pay this down?
Regional council members are very often attacked for spending without the visible revenue to cover the expense. No doubt these councillors are dedicated citizens willing to work hard for the betterment of the region. Shouldn’t it bother these members that the cheque sent to the provincial government from CBRM for services such as public housing, corrections, education and libraries is more than the cheque received from the Nova Scotia government for equalization to CBRM?
The annual discrepancies in provincial transfers to CBRM, measured by actual grant as a share of entitlement, is very revealing — shocking is a better word.
If we take CBRM’s entitlement grant share as 100 per cent, since the 1999-2000 taxation year the grant has steadily decreased by an average of about five points per year so that in 2009-2010 our share received from the province is 54 per cent.
It was grossly unfair back in 2000; it is getting progressively worse. I am reminded of a saying by Sam Goldwyn: “I improved it worst.”
The councillors and MLAs should be screaming for fairness in equalization as set down in the Constitution.
Some well-intentioned citizens meet at the Cedars Club on MacKenzie Street in Sydney each Wednesday at 6 o’clock. They have titled themselves Nova Scotians for Equalization Fairness, NSEF. They intend to get facts and present them to the public, and to invite councillors and MLAs for their input and commitment.
These citizens are from all parts of CBRM and we welcome newcomers, people who are fed up with the way our area has been treated on equalization.
You see, there is no security in the amount of the transfer from one year to the next. Under such circumstances, how can council be expected to set a realistic budget?
Carl MacIntyre
Big Pond Centre

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