Allain say taxes won’t increase, except where taxes increase on heels of white paper on local governance reform

NEW BRUNSWICK – In a live press briefing from Fredericton on Thursday, Nov. 18, Minister of Local Government and Government Reform Daniel Allain released details on the white paper for governance reform which has been in consultation since September 2020.

Allain said it had long been “time to modernize our local governance system. It was stuck in the past and our province has changed so much since the 1960s.

“Change is long overdue in our province,” he added.

Allain said many regions of the province are “not thriving”, and that some 30 per cent of New Brunswickers are “not represented at a local level by mayor and council.”

The white paper, titled Working together for vibrant and sustainable communities, provides a framework going forward Allain calls “efficient and accountable to New Brunswickers”.

The most substantial change of this new framework in the exponential decrease in local governance entities in the province; meaning amalgamation. Currently, the province boasts 104 local governments and 236 local service districts, but the new reform alters that to 78 local governments and 12 rural districts for a total of 90.

What that means locally is St. Stephen, Saint Andrews, St. George, Blacks Harbour, Beaver Harbour, McAdam, Grand Manan, Campobello Island, and much of the surrounding region becomes one entity under the new plan, still falling under Regional Service Commission (RSC) 10, the Southwest New Brunswick Service Commission.

A by-election proposed for November 2022 will be held for entity 56, Saint Andrews, Chamcook and Bayside, as the population will increase between 15 and 50 per cent in the shift.

While Allain says change won’t “happen overnight”, transition teams are already being in put place to help these new RSC amalgamations navigate the four years the plan is projected to take to put fully into action.

He said the goal is that “the newly restructured local governance governments and rural districts will be formally established by Sept. 1, 2023.”

Allain also said taxation rates won’t increase, except in regions where they increase. He said that should a new amalgamation require increased services at an increased cost, so the tax rate would reflect that need.

The white paper itself states in section 4.1.1 that entities with differing tax rates will maintain those different rates, 4.1.2 states “Increases or decreases in tax rates will result from the restructurings and the cost allocation for the services that are available in different portions of a local government.

“These will be determined during the transition in 2022 and will be phased in to mitigate the impact to property owners.”

Residents will be taxed “accordingly” said Allain.

The report in full can be found here.