Berwick’s total assessment roll for 2014 is up by less than one per cent, which could make budgeting for the coming year challenging.
“That is a pretty low amount,” reported finance director Greg Towne during the Jan. 28 council meeting.
“It will impair revenues and options in the coming year,” cautioned Towne, adding it could also “make where the tax rate will end up trickier.”
Nine months into the current fiscal year, lower than anticipated deed transfer taxes in 2013 have also factored into lower revenues for the town. Towne reported deed transfer taxes are down from budgeted projections by $17,500. He said the variance could change, but was not confident there would be any improvement achieved in the last quarter.
Despite a reduction in the deed transfer tax from 1.5 per cent to one per cent last year, Towne pointed to a reduction in overall property sales in Berwick as the root of the problem.
“While home sales are down slightly in Nova Scotia, (Berwick) experienced a significant decline in sales activity,” furthered Towne. His report noted from December 2012 to November 2013 there were 30 real estate transactions in Berwick, down from 42 in the previous year during the same time period.
“That represents a decrease of almost 29 per cent,” said Towne, adding Berwick’s data compared unfavourably to an overall four per cent decrease in transactions in the Annapolis Valley in the past year.
Towne observed 2013 was a slower year than normal for new home sales but the trend is for sales to rebound in 2014.
“Having said that, future budgets may be adjusted to add some conservatism and reduce significant variances in future years.”