13 April 2022
Mayor Kate Rogers
City of Fredericton
397 Queen St., Fredericton NB
Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Municipal Property Tax Rates
I am writing today on behalf of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors and 1,000+ member businesses and not-for-profit organizations regarding the City of Fredericton’s property tax rates – particularly the commercial rate. Of course, the municipal rate does not exist in a vacuum – property assessments are an equal part of the tax bill – and those assessments have increased significantly across New Brunswick over the past year.
Municipalities throughout the province took different paths regarding these assessment spikes. As we wrote in our policy brief presented to City Council in February 2022:
“We were surprised that given the financial difficulties for residents and businesses over the previous two years that City Council chose to only reduce the property tax rate by 2.25 cents per $100 after assessments jumped 9.2% in Fredericton [according to CBC News]. The difference of $8 million means an average commercial property tax bill increased $522 this year. No doubt the City government can endlessly find ‘good’ uses for extra tax dollars, but this is the worst possible year to add this burden to businesses (and homeowners). As a collaborative step, the City can assist in our advocacy for the provincial government to eliminate the non-owner-occupied property tax rate (the so-called “double tax”).”
At the time we authored and presented this brief, we were optimistic that the provincial government would take more dramatic steps to help ease the property tax burden for businesses and individuals in their 2022-23 budget. That did not materialize to the extent hoped, therefore it is important for the municipal government to take steps to mitigate the financial pressure being placed on businesses just coming out of the pandemic and beginning the recovery process in many sectors.
While residential development has been record-setting, our housing crisis remains. The construction industry is facing serious issues that threatens this momentum – labour availability, supply issues and costs. For businesses, it isn’t just about the property tax bill per se – it’s about the overall tax/cost burden, with property tax being one of the largest (and one within the control of governments). As the economy recovers and Fredericton continues to grow, we can expect commercial development demand to trend upwards again, putting further pressure on the industry and further exacerbating these issues.
We understand these are complex issues for governments that have many interests to balance and we look forward to speaking with council further throughout the spring and summer as we approach municipal budget season in early fall and appreciate the City of Fredericton’s ongoing collaborative nature. Ultimately, all of the revenue that government’s have to spend came from business and therefore it is in everyone’s interest to ensure and healthy and prosperous private sector.
Krista Ross, CEO, Fredericton Chamber of Commerce
cc: Henri Mallet, Chair, City of Fredericton Municipal Finance and Corporate Administration Committee
cc: Steven Hart, CAO, City of Fredericton