Gas Distribution System Municipal Taxation Act Introduced

first_img Municipal taxation of natural gas distribution systems in NovaScotia will be based on a combination of assessment and revenues,rather than just assessed property value. This was the highlightof four bills introduced in the legislature today, Sept. 24, byService Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister BarryBarnet. The Gas Distribution System Municipal Taxation Act was introducedat the request of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (UNSM).The UNSM negotiated a 20-year tax arrangement with Heritage Gason behalf of all municipalities containing the company’spipelines. “Normally, municipal taxes are determined by the simple equationof rate times assessment,” Mr. Barnet said. “But municipalitieswanted to try something different with this new industry. Sinceit’s their revenue at stake, we agreed they should negotiatedirectly with Heritage Gas.” The revenue-based arrangement covers low-pressure lines whichwill serve mostly residential and commercial customers, andsingle high-pressure lines that serve one industrial customer. For the first 10 years, taxes on the low-pressure line will betwo per cent of gross revenues, four per cent for the next fiveyears and five per cent for the remaining five years of the term. Taxes on the high-pressure, single-customer lines will be eightper cent of gross revenues. The minister said the municipalities realize they may receivesmaller revenues in the early years of the arrangement inanticipation of greater revenues later on. “Natural gas development and all that comes with it is newterritory for Nova Scotia. It requires us to think differentlyand to be willing to try new things,” he said. “I commend themunicipalities for this innovative approach to taxation. Taxationcertainty will help develop the industry and sends a positivemessage about Nova Scotia as a place to do business.” Other bills introduced today will amend the Municipal Government,Land Registration, and Vital Statistic acts. The amendments tothe Municipal Government Act include housekeeping matters anditems at the request of municipalities. Since 2001, the Land Registration Act has provided the frameworkfor Nova Scotia’s new land registration system. The electronicsystem replaces a 250-year-old paper-based system and guaranteesproperty title. The system is now in place in eight counties andwill be rolled out to the rest of the province by March 2005. “As with any new legislation that has been in place for a while,we have identified ways to improve the Land Registration Act,”Mr. Barnet said. “These amendments will help to streamline thenew system and make conversion of land parcels to the systemeasier.” In particular, changes to the mortgage conversion trigger willpermit owners to mortgage their property before they registertheir parcel allowing landowners to receive mortgage moneyfaster. The proposed amendment would give lenders a specified time afterthe mortgage is funded to convert the parcel. The mortgage willbe void if parcel conversion does not follow mortgaging withinthe time frame to be specified in regulations. Another clause would give the minister flexibility to provide alandowner with more time to convert parcels to the new systemwhere circumstances require. This would benefit the registry whenlarge land holders need to convert many parcels at one time,thereby avoiding the need for other property owners to wait tohave their parcels converted. The Vital Statistics Act is proposed for amendment in response toa 2003 Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the rights of biologicalfathers. The amendment will allow for courts to order thatpaternity be determined through genetic testing, and make iteasier for paternal information to be included in birthregistration records. The Supreme Court ruling was related to British Columbia legislation, parts of which are similar to theNova Scotia act. Most provinces are amending their relevantlegislation to comply with the court ruling. SERVICE N.S./MUNICIPAL RELATIONS–Gas Distribution SystemMunicipal Taxation Act Introducedlast_img read more