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Municipal Spending in Nova Scotia Meets Benchmark

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CFIB’s 1st Nova Scotia Municipal Spending Report analyzes operating spending growth in N.S. municipalities and towns from 2010 to 2017; results show communities throughout the province are keeping operating spending to the sustainable benchmark of both inflation and population growth. 

Figure 1
Nova Scotia Real Operating Spending and Population Growth, 2010-2017

Figure 1

Source: CFIB calculations, Municipal Affairs, NS Government, Statistics Canada, 20010-2017

This report ranks 18 of Nova Scotia’s largest municipalities, and 15 of its largest towns, covering 94% of the provincial population. For the period examined, overall real operating spending in Nova Scotia increased by 0.9%, while population increased by 1.2%, meeting the sustainable benchmark rate. 

18 out of 33 communities analyzed in the report kept their operational spending at or below levels of inflation and population growth over the 8 year period. Additionally, 23 of the 33 communities saw population declines over the same period, 12 of which were able to keep their growth in real operating spending at or below the benchmark. 

Going forward, CFIB is calling on all municipalities and towns to further improve transparency and consistency in reporting of their financial data. Discrepancies that exist in the way data is reported made analysis unnecessarily complicated, for example, differences exist in the way municipalities classify their expenditures. Increased oversight and uniform standards are necessary to ensure the data collected from one municipality is comparable to another. Below are our recommendations for municipal governments. 

Recommendations for government: 

  •     Municipalities limit spending to inflation and population growth
  •     Better alignment between municipalities and the private sector. 
  •     Increase transparency and consistency in the reporting of financial data. 
  •     Digitize government services to increase efficiency and management of information. 
  •     Reduce the gap between residential property tax and the amount paid by small businesses. 

Read full report 2019 Nova Scotia Municipal Spending Report