"What an Opportunity!"
I’m responding to a recent letter by Moses Fleming of Keswick Ridge advising affected residents to vote “no” on forming a “rural community” with a Mayor and Councillors because he’s concerned taxes will go up. I will pass on my experience as one of the active proponents of incorporation of New Maryland over 25 years ago and serving as the community’s first Mayor from 1991-1995. While I suspect there are some technical differences between being incorporated as a Village as New Maryland was and a “rural community” as is being considered in Mr Fleming’s area, the same argument (ie. taxes will go up because of incorporation) was used in New Maryland and they were wrong!
Taxes did not go up (adjusted for inflation). The DIFFERENCE was that more of the money stayed in the community rather than going to the Province to spend in Caraquet, St. Stephen, Grand Falls, Port Elgin etc. It meant much of the property tax dollars residents pay the Province each year was spent by community representatives for the good of their own citizens. The first year of New Maryland incorporation saw Council assign the SAME PROPERTY TAX RATE as was in affect the previous year as an unincorporated Local Service District.
We still provided police and fire protection, garbage collection, hired private contractors to plow and maintain roads, made our recreation centre accessible to disabled individuals, fix up Victoria Hall (the oldest public building in the Village), offer recreation services, were able to apply for Infrastructure grants (something unincorporated areas were not eligible for) to upgrade roads, water and sewage facilities and construct sidewalks, hire students for recreation and ground maintenance and give New Maryland a much stronger voice in regional issues with no significatn real interest in property taxes.
The four years I was Mayor of New Maryland, that community had one of the lowest municipal tax rates in the Province. I suspect that is still the case as succeeding Councils have spent wisely. As long as that happens (and if you’re concerned, run for the first Council), having an organized local government will be a good thing. Those areas that reject that option are just giving their tax dollar to another community. Surely, that is not going to benefit people in Keswick Ridge and surrounding communities.
I hope people vote “yes”. What an opportunity!
* This letter was sent to the Editor of the Daily Gleaner. It was was edited and then published on August 4, 2017. It has been used here by permission of the author.
Mr. Wiezel lived in Kingsclear for 11 years and represented the Kingsclear area on the District 26 School Board for two terms in the 1980s. He also ran a summer recreation project in the Keswick Ridge area for two summers in the 1970s.