Text of the ‘Responsibilities for Roads’ Document

[This is the fourth in a series of posts on service costs in Local Service Districts (LSDs) in New Brunswick. I suggest reading these previous posts, which add context to the information presented below:


In 2011, the New Brunswick government moved towards reform of the system of local governance by adopting some elements of the Finn report. By gradually transferring responsibilities (and tax points) for provision of local services to Regional Service Commissions, the Province hoped to relieve itself of certain costs and also transfer decision-making for certain politically sensitive issues to the regional commissions. Financial analyses carried out by the Province in previous years indicated that property taxes collected from rural New Brunswick (in particular the unincorporated Local Service Districts) were insufficient to cover the costs of local services. This means that once local service delivery is completely transferred the Regional Service Commissions, property taxes in at least some parts of rural New Brunswick may rise, and rise considerably.

Among the documents released as part of the process of transition to the new system was one entitled ‘Responsibilities for Roads’. In brief, this document sets out an eight year transition period during which responsibilities for local road maintenance and repair would become a local responsibility. The Province would no longer fund snowplowing and maintenance of what it deemed to be local roads. Those would become the responsibility of rural municipalities, towns and villages and/or Regional Service Commissions. There would certainly be some tax implications in this transfer, especially for rural areas with falling populations and a weakening  tax base.

The ‘Responsibilities for Roads’ document was once found at this URL:

 http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/trans/pdf/en/Publications/Responsibilities_for_Roads.pdf .

However, it seems to have been removed or relocated.  I had previously downloaded a copy of the document and have placed the text below (and here’s a link to the downloaded pdf   –   Responsibilities_for_Roads).  I don’t know why the document has been removed – perhaps the government is no longer intent on downloading responsibilities for local roads, perhaps the issue is deemed too politically sensitive for display, or perhaps the plan is ‘under review’.

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[Updated] Needs versus Wants: ‘International’ Airports in New Brunswick

[Note: this is an updated version of an older post.  The most recent data on airport traffic (2014) have been added to tables and figures below and some text has been modified to reflect those data.]

What do we want from airports in New Brunswick? The three airports of New Brunswick’s three largest urban centres have direct flights to Toronto and Montreal, but (naturally) most of us want more of ’em. We want direct flights to Boston and/or New York, and we want flights to our favourite destinations to be frequent and cheap. Airport operators know this and requests for infrastructure dollars (from tax revenue) are often implicitly connected to the idea that more infrastructure (terminal buildings, runways, etc) will result in more passenger growth, more price competition, and thereby increase opportunities for more frequent and cheaper flights. 

Unfortunately, we live in a region where economic growth has been anemic and incomes have been stagnant. Consequently, tax revenue is at a premium and there are many competing demands for that revenue. A dollar from tax revenue spent on a terminal expansion is a dollar that can’t be spent on a school or hospital. Requests from airport operators for contributions from Federal, Provincial, and Municipal sources have to be seen in that light. In this post, I am going to look at passenger and flight data for the three main airports in southern New Brunswick and consider some options for the future.

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Needs versus Wants: ‘International’ Airports in New Brunswick

What do we want from airports in New Brunswick? The three airports of New Brunswick’s three largest urban centres have direct flights to Toronto and Montreal, but (naturally) most of us want more of ’em. We want direct flights to Boston and/or New York, and we want flights to our favourite destinations to be frequent and cheap. Airport operators know this and requests for infrastructure dollars (from tax revenue) are often implicitly connected to the idea that more infrastructure (terminal buildings, runways, etc) will result in more passenger growth, more price competition, and thereby increase opportunities for more frequent and cheaper flights. 

Unfortunately, we live in a region where economic growth has been anemic and incomes have been stagnant. Consequently, tax revenue is at a premium and there are many competing demands for that revenue. A dollar from tax revenue spent on a terminal expansion is a dollar that can’t be spent on a school or hospital. Requests from airport operators for contributions from Federal, Provincial, and Municipal sources have to be seen in that light. In this post, I am going to look at passenger and flight data for the three main airports in southern New Brunswick and consider some options for the future.

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How Much Does It Cost To Run A Local Service District (LSD)?

[Note: I suggest reading these two previous posts, found here and here, on this subject for additional background material.]

Do residents of Local Service Districts (LSDs) in New Brunswick pay too much or too little for the services they receive from governments?

That is a question that has been raised before in this Province and we will see it raised again across New Brunswick, especially now that the Province has moved forward with some of the recommendations of the Finn Report, namely the creation of the Regional Service Commissions (RSCs). The latter are charged with delivering ‘local’ and ‘provincial’ services on a regional basis. For LSDs, that means that services that have been provided to residents of LSDs by the Province (e.g. road maintenance, snowplowing, policing) are gradually being transferred to the RSCs, which have been given the task of providing those services on a cost-recovery basis.

For several decades, the Province has levied a tax rate (referred to as the ‘Special Provincial Levy’) of $0.65 per $100 of assessed value on LSD residential properties to pay for those services. Over the next few years, that $0.65 will gradually be shifted from the ‘provincial’ to the ‘local’ portion of property taxes and the RSCs will be given the task of recovering enough in tax revenue to pay for those services. Will the existing LSD tax rates provide RSCs with enough revenue to cover service costs? As the cost of a number of those services has increased significantly, LSDs that have experienced a slow rise (or decline) in the assessed value of properties may see substantial hikes in property taxes to make up any deficiency in revenue.

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