Families, seniors and other property owners will be protected from sudden increases in property assessments, thanks to the province’s decision to continue the Capped Assessment Program. “A home’s assessed value can easily go up without warning, which can bring an increase in tax bills,” said Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister John MacDonell. “Without this program, hard-working families and seniors could suddenly find themselves unable to afford to stay in their own home. That is simply unfair.” The decision comes after a review of the Capped Assessment Program that included input from many interested groups, including the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, municipal councils and staff, ratepayers’ associations, the Canadian Federation of Taxpayers, and the Property Valuation Services Corporation, which conducts property assessments in Nova Scotia. Most importantly, Nova Scotians were asked to provide their opinions. Of the 1,200 responses received from the public 89 per cent supported keeping the program. Eighty-seven per cent of rate payer associations that completed the online survey supported the program. “The CAP puts an average of $117 a year back into the pockets of those benefitting from the program. The CAP helps families and seniors make ends meet,” said Mr. MacDonell. The Capped Assessment Program was originally implemented in 2005 to protect seniors and families from rapidly increasing property assessments. Since then, it has grown to include 377,000 properties. New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have also started similar programs in the last year. “The District of Lunenburg is in a unique situation with many capped properties, higher than average market values and a modest average household income,” said Lunenburg Mayor Don Downe. “Without the protection afforded by the CAP, more of our residents would be hit with a substantial increase in property tax. While our council understands the complexities of the CAP, we do not feel a fair exit strategy has been advanced to date and the CAP should remain.” The Capped Assessment Program ensures that qualifying residential/resource properties’ taxable assessments are limited to the same percentage increase as the province’s consumer price index from the previous year. For example, in 2011 the consumer price index increased 2.9 percentage points from the previous year, which means the CAP was 2.9 per cent. To view a copy of the CAP review, visit www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr.