Copyright
Robert Murray Haig.

The exemption of improvements from taxation in Canada and the United States [electronic resource] : a report prepared for the Committee on Taxation of the City of New York online

. (page 14 of 31)
Online LibraryRobert Murray HaigThe exemption of improvements from taxation in Canada and the United States [electronic resource] : a report prepared for the Committee on Taxation of the City of New York → online text (page 14 of 31)
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140

The following letter explains more fully the situation(l) in the town
of Gleichen :

In order that you may the better understand the situation in
Gleichen with regard to single tax I shall give you a brief outline
of the town's history. Towards the end of 1910 Gleichen was incor-
porated as a town. In 1911 the council embarked upon a water-
works and sewage scheme. Thirty thousand dollars debentures were
floated for this purpose, the first debenture payments falling due
in May, 1912. Under the single tax the whole assessment was revised
and, in order that the rate should not be too high, in most cases
the assessment was doubled. Even with a twenty-nine mill rate
in 1912 it was found there was a considerable deficit and permission
was granted in 1913 by the provincial legislature to levy a business
tax at the rate of ten per cent, of the rental value. Since then we
have been able to meet our obligations, but it has been found'
absolutely impossible to carry out some badly needed improvements.

Each year, too, sees us left with an increasing number of lots,
for which there is no immediate sale. The town is over thirty years
old, the growth has been slow but natural, and since 1911 there has
been no noticeable growth, nor is there likely to be, unless some
natural resource, as yet undiscovered, should bring a further period
of prosperity to the town.

With no growth there is no demand for lots and with an increas-
ing number on our hands from which there is no revenue, it is
probable that there will be a further increase in the mill rate in 1915
without a corresponding increase in the town utilities.

Yours truly,

(Signed) Peter MacLean,

Secretary-Treasurer.

A supplementary statement was also received from the town of
Claresholm:(2)

In all fairness to the system and its advocates I believe it would
be an excellent plan if adopted at the beginning or time of incorpora-
tion of a town, city or municipality. The trouble we have found
is due to the fact that we, and I believe this to be true of ninety per
cent, of the towns incorporated at the time of the adoption of the
single tax system, in order to improve to the fullest extent our
municipal conditions, had already exerted our borrowing capacity
to the fullest extent based on our assessed valuation of both land and
improvements. In smaller towns where the improvements in the
way of buildings, etc., are equal in value to fifty per cent, and more
of the land values, the sudden cancellation of the improvement asset
is bound to work a hardship for some time to come; it is bound to
mean a considerable increase in the rate on the land. Had the
system come into effect before the town debt had been incurred it
would have been welcomed as I believe that it is very fair to all actual
citizens and that it prohibits speculation.

Yours truly,

(Signed) John F. Reynolds,

Secretary-Treasurer.

(1) Cy. supra, p. 134.

(2) Cf. supra, p. 133.



141

A request for information was sent to each of the forty-six towns in
the province. (1) Eight towns failed to reply. (2) Of the thirty-eight
towns from which replies were received, nine cannot be used for the
purpose of studying the effects of the 1912 change in the Town Act.
Cardston operates under a special charter. In Athabasca, Bassano, Coro-
nation, Edson, Grouard, Redcliff, St. Albert and Tofield, the 1912 act brought
no change in the tax system either because the town was not yet incorporated
or because the town, by special arrangement, had already gone over to
the single-tax basis. The returns from twenty-nine towns are therefore
available for analysis.

Increases in tax rates are reported from almost every town, only four
out of the twenty-nine finding it unnecessary to raise their rates. (3)
According to specific statements received, nine of the towns had to increase
their rates one hundred per cent, or more. The rate in Olds jumped from
eighteen to fifty mills, in Stettler from twenty-five to fifty-eight mills, and
in Castor from twenty-five to eighty-five mills! This last rate (8.5 per
cent.), seems to mark the high- water mark in the province.

Overassessment was also resorted to very generally. Two of the four
towns which did not increase their tax rates, Macleod and Stavely, found
it necessary to resort to overassessment of land values to make ends meet.
In all, nineteen towns, according to the replies received, overassessed lands
for purposes of taxation. (4) Seventeen of these not only overassessed
but also increased their rates of taxation.

Of the twenty-nine towns under consideration, ten reported that the
imposition of the system made it impossible for them to carry out con-
templated improvements, (5) and fifteen testified that under the new system
difficulties were encountered in meeting obligations already assumed. (6)

Fourteen towns reported that there had been an effect on land values,
traceable to the change in the tax system. (7) Blairmore reported that it
had practically stopped all sales, and Didsbury, that it had resulted in a
depreciation of fifty per cent. Five towns sent indefinite or non-committal
replies. (8)

In fourteen towns there has been an increase in the lands surrendered
for taxes. (9)

(1) No letters were sent to Leduc and Ponoka as these towns had been visited.

(2) Bow Island, Daysland, Diamond City, Morinville, Nanton, Strathmore,
Vegreville and Wainwright were the towns from which no reply was received.

(3) The four towns were Irvine, Macleod, Raymond and Stavely,

(4) Nine towns reported that no overassessment had resulted. The reply from
Taber is indeiinite.

(5) Blairmore, Brooks, Castor, Claresholm, Coleman, Didsbury, Fort Saskatche-
wan, Granum, Hardisty and Magrath.

(6) Blairmore, Brooks, Camrose, Castor, Claresholm, Didsbury, Fort Sas-
katchewan, Gleichen, Granum, Hardisty, Leduc, Magrath, Pincher Creek, Ponoka
and Stettler.

(7) Blairmore, Brooks, Castor, Claresholm, Didsbury, Granum, Lacombe, Leduc,
Magrath, Olds, Pincher Creek, Ponoka, Stavely, Taber.

(8) Coleman, Fort Saskatchewan, Gleichen, Hardisty and Stony Plain.

(9) Blairmore, Brooks, Castor, Claresholm, Didsbury, Fort Saskatchewan, Glei-
chen, Granum, High River, Lacombe, Magrath, Okotoks, Stettler and Stony Plain.



142

Fourteen towns reported that the change was unpopular when made in
1912. Nine reported the measure popular.(l) Six non-committal or
indefinite replies were received. (2) In seventeen towns the sentiment is
at present unfavorable to the new system. In only six towns out of the
twenty-nine are the people pleased with the system. (3) Three towns,



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