PORT HAWKESBURY: Properties in Port Hawkesbury are worth more in 2019 than they were in 2018, according to their annual assessment.

The town’s finance director, Erin MacEachen unveiled the assessment on January 8, which saw a 1.43 per cent increase in residential assessment and a 1.25 per cent increase in commercial assessment, equating to a total of $64,000 of new revenue for their upcoming budget.

“Which I found very positive, because we’ve been dealing with less money than we’ve had in prior years, we’re working with $182,000 less in last fiscal year than we were in 2014,” she said. “We have discussed in the past the challenges we face with declining assessments – it’s been a challenge here. But we’re very happy to see that downward trend has mitigated slightly this year.”

Over the last number of years, the assessment trends in Port Hawkesbury have seen residential assessments remaining relatively flat, while the commercial assessments have been declining.

“Since 2014, our residential assessments have increased two per cent over that six-year period, while our commercial assessments have declined seven per cent over that same period,” MacEachen highlighted. “Of the 12 instances for increases, we had three that were more than 0.5 per cent over that six-year period.”

Of Port Hawkesbury’s 212 commercial accounts, 28 accounts have seen an increase over the last year, only 12 of those 28 accounts have increased by more than $2,000.

Providing the numbers with cautionary optimism, she indicated the mitigated downward trend in commercial assessments was offset by some decline in grant properties – the federal and provincial properties that don’t pay taxes.

Most significantly for the town, there was around a $600,000 decrease in the assessment of the Nova Scotia Community College, and there were also decreases in the justice centre as well as the provincial building.

MacEachen expressed that although the commercial assessments have increased, this is significantly due to the investment in two existing businesses in town, which made significant investments in their properties, along with the addition of a new business through the Start-Up Port Hawkesbury program.

“Of that increase we’ve seen, around $600,000 in commercial assessment, those three properties equate to $1.27 million of that $600,000 increase,” she said. “So if those didn’t occur, we’d still be in the decline.”