UPPER MIRAMICHI (CNB) – The provincial government released today an action plan to establish a new local governance system.

An Action Plan for a New Local Governance System in New Brunswick, released by Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch, is the result of extensive consultation and fulfils the provincial government’s commitment to establish a new local governance system.

"This plan was shaped by New Brunswickers through a process that allowed me to hear first-hand what issues need to be addressed to make the system better and more sustainable," said Fitch. "Our government is forging ahead for the benefit of communities throughout New Brunswick. By implementing this plan, we will make the system fair, effective and responsive to the needs of residents in all communities."  

The plan has five objectives:

●    strengthen the capacity of local governments while maintaining community identity;
●    fair and effective property taxation and assessment system for the long term;
●    increased collaboration, communication and planning between communities;
●    more equitable community funding arrangements; and
●    modernized legislation supporting local and regional decision making.

Actions announced at today's launch include:

●    establishing 12 regional service commissions by January 2013;
●    providing support to help communities restructure;
●    removing barriers that discourage communities from restructuring. Specific actions include establishing a roads policy and arriving at more equitable cost sharing for RCMP services;
●    providing new options for property tax payments, coming into effect in 2013;
●    redesigning property tax bills to provide more information to property owners; and
●    developing a provincial policy to guide regional investments for sport, recreation and cultural facilities.

Among further initiatives to be announced:

●    improvements to the property tax system will be contained in the 2012-13 provincial budget;
●    a plan to address assessment spikes and year-over-year increases will be announced in 2012;
●    a new community funding arrangement will take effect in January 2013. The unconditional grant for 2012 was announced previously; and
●    legislation will continue to be updated to support the new system.
    
"Our local governance system is complex and it is interconnected, so putting this plan into action will require strong leadership as well as continued partnership and collaboration from municipalities, local service districts, service providers and the people of New Brunswick," said Fitch. "The initiatives contained in our action plan will strengthen New Brunswick and support our goal of long-term sustainability for our communities."

The action plan is on the Department of Local Government website.

LINK:

●    Department of Local Government: www.gnb.ca/localgovernment