WEST HANTS, N.S. — Residents of West Hants won't be taxed more to live in the county this year, even with the addition of green bin collection.
West Hants' chief administrative officer Martin Laycock said council managed to maintain the 2017/18 base tax rate for both residential and commercial property owners while adding some additional services. The budget was passed April 24 at a special council meeting.
The rates will stand at $1.0163 per $100 of assessed residential property and $1.80 per $100 of assessed commercial property.
“We're excited that we are able to maintain the commercial tax rate, which is the lowest commercial tax rate in the province. That's something that we're, of course, very proud of,” said Laycock.
Hantsport's taxation rate, which includes an area rate, will also remain the same. Residential property owners will pay $1.66 per $100 of assessed value ($1.0163 plus an area rate of $0.6437) and commercial property owners will pay $3.82 per $100 of assessed value ($1.80 plus an area rate of $2.02).
Later this year, West Hants is hoping to focus more attention on drawing businesses to the area thanks to council approving funding for an economic development officer.
“Economic development has been identified as a key priority for the municipality so to help with that, we now have funding... to hire an economic development officer that will look at not only retaining business within the municipality but bringing new business in, finding opportunities, finding new revenue sources,” said Laycock.
The CAO said bringing in new revenue is a priority for the municipality as they look to keep the tax rates steady.
“That's sort of our goal within the municipality — to not rely on raising taxes as a way forward,” he said.
They hope to have an economic development officer in place later this summer.
While green bin carts are still arriving at various properties in the municipality this week, Laycock said the cost of providing the organic waste collection service was easier to absorb due to West Hants switching service providers this year.
“Some of the costs associated with the green bins were offset because we have a lower contract for waste collection. You could say green bins were X amount of dollars but they were brought down significantly because we're saving on our new waste collection services,” said Laycock.
Councillors met April 3-4 and again April 17 to hash out the budget.
“I think council really did an excellent job of reviewing the budget and going through it line by line by line and they have a good handle on it and they asked very difficult questions.”