N.B. to drop funding for harness racing

New Brunswick’s latest provincial budget calls for an end to "supplemental funding" for the province’s harness racing industry.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs’ budget, released Tuesday, says the funding will be "terminated" effective March 31 next year.

Higgs said the cut is expected to save the province an estimated $600,000, starting in the 2013-14 budget year.

Horse Racing New Brunswick, which receives the funding and operates events at Fredericton Raceway and at Saint John’s Exhibition Park Raceway, had no official comment as of Tuesday afternoon.

Among other line items, the budget calls for a four-year phased-in overhaul of New Brunswick’s property tax system, starting with the 2013 tax year and pledging "more equitable treatment of all property types," with details to follow within the next few months.

The province will also raise its real property transfer tax to 0.5 per cent from 0.25 per cent, starting June 1 this year. The tax hike is expected to contribute an extra $7 million per year.

"We continue to see challenges in our debt and in the fact that our revenue is not enough to pay for the public services we are providing, but we have tabled a plan to meet our commitment of returning to balanced budgets by 2014-15," Higgs said of the province’s overall budget.

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