Creation of the New Program
Halifax Regional Council has directed staff to implement a rolling three-year Assessment Averaging Program for commercial properties to help increase predictability in property taxes for commercial property owners and businesses. This will add certainty to future operating costs (related to taxation) for business owners with properties experiencing sudden spikes in assessed values.
This program will not be coming into place for the 2023/24 fiscal year as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MAH) declined to sign the By-law. Currently, there is no timeline for the implementation of this By-law.
The phase-in of these assessment increases over three years is enabled by provincial legislation, through the creation of a Commercial Development District. To make the program available to as many businesses across the municipality as possible, a separate and focused amendment to the current Regional Municipal Planning Strategy (Regional Plan) was completed.
Information on the program origin is available in the May 4, 2021 staff report and presentation. Details of the proposed program features can be found in a March 22, 2022 staff report and presentation.
Proposed Eligibility Criteria
The proposed program will be eligible to commercial property owners in the municipality:
- in an area serviced by municipal water and sewer (provincial legislative requirement);
- with a commercial assessment increase greater than 5 per cent any year.
Other Program Features
Properties with annual assessment increases over the program threshold will have their annual market increase phased in over three years.
No application is required (by the property owner). All eligible properties will automatically be averaged, if their annual increase exceeds that year’s program threshold.
It is estimated that 10 to 25 per cent of all commercial properties would see their assessment “averaged” (reduced) in any given year. So, roughly 550 to 1,350 of commercial properties. This is expected to vary, year by year.
For more information or to provide comments/feedback on the proposed program, please contact Kenzie McNeil, Manager, Financial Policy at email@example.com.