I heard about amalgamation but I’m not sure what happened. What can you tell me?
On January 1, 2023, the town formerly known as Hartland amalgamated with six neighboring communities (formerly known as Local Service Districts or LSDs) to form a new municipality. The amalgamation process was directed by the provincial government. As a result, new Hartland now includes all of “old” Hartland, plus all of Brighton, Coldstream, and Somerville, as well as parts of Simonds, Wakefield, and Peel. Our new municipality has a population of 3800 residents.
How does amalgamation benefit me?
Before amalgamation, LSD residents had no local government. Every decision about local matters such as property taxes and land use was made by the province with limited input from local residents. After amalgamation, residents of former LSDs now have elected representatives in Hartland’s municipal government. In fact, through the amalgamation process, Hartland set up three voting wards: one for Brighton, a second for Hartland and Coldstream, and a third for Simonds, Somerville, Wakefield, and Peel. In Hartland’s new local government, each ward is represented by one member of Council who must reside in the ward. So, for the first time, LSD residents have a direct say in local decisions. In addition to having representation in local government, residents of former LSDs can now turn to the town for matters related to planning, zoning, land use, waste, unsightly premises, and more. To do so, residents can contact the town (506.375.4357 or firstname.lastname@example.org) for information and support or bring the matter directly to the attention of Council.
Why did my property tax rate increase?
For 2023, residents of “old” Hartland (those not residing in a former LSD) will pay $1.5149 per $100 of property, which represents a $1.5 cent increase over 2022. Residents of Somerville, Simonds, Wakefield, and Brighton will pay $0.6816 per $100, which equates to a 7 to 8 cent increase. Coldstream residents will pay $0.7350, while Peel residents will pay $0.6110. Why did tax rates change?
In 2023, municipalities across New Brunswick saw higher costs from external service providers for policing as well as waste collection and disposal. Hartland’s cost for police services from the RCMP rose 11% between 2022 and 2023, totaling more than $970,000. Waste collection and disposal saw an increase of 9% from 2022 to 2023, totaling more than $403,000. In addition, the province expanded the mandate of Regional Service Commissions. In 2023, Hartland will pay $140,000 to the Western Valley Regional Service Commission for planning, zoning, tourism, recreation, and other services. The cost of these three services, which Hartland pays to external organizations and does not control, comprises more than 40% of Hartland’s general operating budget. In other words, more than $2 of every $5 that Hartland residents pay in property taxes goes to policing, waste, and regional services.
In addition to these increases for external services, residents of former LSDs are now sharing the cost of Hartland’s local government. That is, they are paying for the cost of Council, administration, planning, and recreation, which includes work such as updating bylaws and creating long-term plans to strengthen our new community, for developments such as the new community complex.
How much are Council members paid?
For 2023, the mayor will receive an honorarium (or salary) of $12,000, the deputy mayor will receive $9000, and the other five councilors will each receive $6000. These salaries are below average for similar towns in New Brunswick.
Will I have to pay to look after (old) Hartland’s roads?
No. In Hartland’s 2023 budget, transportation costs (labor, machines, materials, other) to maintain the streets and roads of old Hartland were not shared with residents of former LSDs. In 2023, the province will continue to maintain roads in the former LSDs such as highways 103 and 105. For this service, the province will continue to charge residents of former LSDs approximately 41 cents per $100 of their property assessment value. The province has not indicated if or when it will make municipalities responsible to maintain rural roads, but it is unlikely that a transition will take place in the next 2 to 3 years.
I don’t receive water or sewer service from the town. Will I still pay for them?
No. In all New Brunswick municipalities, the cost to provide water and sewer service is covered in full by water and sewer user fees, not by property taxes. So, if you are not receiving water and sewer services from Hartland, then you will not be paying these fees, which means that you will not be paying for these services.
Do Hartland’s bylaws apply to me?
Yes, with one key exception. Hartland’s bylaws regarding things such as zoning, public nuisances, and unsightly premises now apply to all residents of new Hartland. The exception is as follows. Hartland’s bylaw C-05, which regards the town’s water & sewer system, only applies to residents of old Hartland. It does not apply to residents of former LSDs.
Is Hartland looking at policing?
Yes. Council is actively reviewing our local police service and investigating alternatives such as regional policing to improve presence and effectiveness, in concert with neighboring municipalities and the province.
Did tax rates on businesses change in 2023?
Yes. They were lowered. For 2023, the province of New Brunswick has decreased its tax rate on $100 of commercial and industrial property from $2.0760 in 2022 to $1.8560 in 2023. This represents decrease of about 10%. Also, for 2023, Hartland raised its tax rate on $100 of commercial and industrial property from $2.2723 to $2.4238, an increase of about 6.7%. As a result, businesses will receive a tax decrease in 2023 of approximately 2.3%.
Did any fees or costs decrease in 2023?
Yes. In 2022, Hartland updated its water and sewer bylaw, including its fees. As a result, the Council set lower fees for apartments, small businesses, and small public or non-profit organizations. In fact, in 2023 apartments will pay 50% less than they did in 2022 and all apartments are now exempt from consumption fees (based on meter readings). Hartland’s Town Council reduced these fees to demonstrate its support for affordable housing, small businesses, and small non-profit organizations.
When is the new community complex expected to open?
In 2022, Hartland received approval and funding from the provincial and federal governments to move forward with construction of our new community complex. Late last year, we completed the foundation for the complex. This April, we are erecting the exterior structure or outer shell, which will be followed by interior concrete and steel. Our current projection sees the complex opening in 2024 between March and May.
Does Hartland plan to build and open a new park on the river?
Yes. In 2022, Hartland selected a riverfront property on Main Street next to the Baptist Church to be the site of a new park. Last fall, Hartland poured a cement pad on this property to support a gazebo. This spring, we plan to build that gazebo and further develop the site to open this new riverside park. In the future, Hartland plans to add more features to the park, such as fencing, playground equipment, and a garden.