A New Deal for local governments is the best path to fix equalization

A New Deal for local governments is the best path to fix equalization issue - Smith-McCrossin Progressive Conservative leadership candidate and Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin says it’s time for a New Deal between the Province of Nova Scotia and municipal governments.

She believes comprehensive municipal reform is the only way to properly address a range of concerns about local governments -municipal equalization being but one.

“As Premier, I will be more than open to negotiating a better municipal equalization formula as part of a broader New Deal for local governments,” said Smith-McCrossin.  “But I won’t start negotiations by writing a cheque for municipal equalization funded by provincial taxpayers to prop up a status quo that in many cases is not working.”

Smith-McCrossin’s New Deal for local governments will reflect the following principles:

  • Encouraging more efficient local government and co-operation between neighbouring municipalities.
  • A new municipal funding formula, including a new equalization formula, that also acts on whatever findings are reached by the province’s Auditor General to the audit requested by PC MLAs from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
  • Reviewing which services are best delivered and financed by either the provincial or municipal governments, including Halifax Regional Municipality’s request to assume responsibility for housing services.
  • Requiring municipal merger proposals to be submitted to affected voters by way of a plebiscite, based on the successful Region of Queens model from the 1990s.
  • Reforming the municipal tax structure to ensure both residential and commercial taxpayers are protected, while recognizing the differences between urban, suburban and rural communities.
  • Legislating the long sought Cape Breton Regional Municipal Charter, as promised by the PC Party in the last two provincial elections.
  • Annual meetings between the provincial cabinet and Federation of Nova Scotia Municipalities to track progress on meeting the goals of the New Deal.

“We need a relationship of respect between the provincial and municipal governments - that’s what my comprehensive New Deal for local governments is all about,” added Smith-McCrossin.  “Mutual respect is earned through hard work, open dialogue and give and take - not writing big cheques before the negotiations have even started.”

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