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Tough talk over allegation

Mayor Peter Kelly is seeking the advice of HRM’s solicitor concerning allegations he pressured staff to inflate projected tax revenues for the proposed convention centre.

Mayor Peter Kelly is seeking the advice of HRM’s solicitor concerning allegations he pressured staff to inflate projected tax revenues for the proposed convention centre.

At a press conference yesterday, Save the View’s Allan Robertson told reporters HRM’s manager of fiscal and tax policy, Bruce Fisher, told him Kelly was exerting pressure to highball the projected property tax revenue from the project.

"What (Fisher) said was that 'On the one hand, you're telling me that my estimates are far too high ... and on the other hand the mayor's pressuring me to get as high a number as possible,'" Robertson said.

Robertson avoided making that accusation himself, saying he was only reporting what Fisher told him during a Nov. 24 meeting.

Kelly denied Robertson’s claim, and said he has referred the comments as reported yesterday by Metro Halifax — via Twitter — to the city’s solicitor.

“He was making accusations that are untrue,” said Kelly.

“The only timeframe we met with staff is when (the matter) came to council.”

Fisher denied experiencing any political interference while making his projections.

“I have not been pressured in any way, by the mayor or anyone else,” he said.

“If we’re wrong, we’re headed for a financial loss. And that’s my reputation. There’s absolutely no way in the world I’m going to jack that number up.”

At issue is HRM’s projection that, based on property tax estimates, the municipality would be at a break-even position by supporting the proposed convention centre. Robertson says HRM’s staff estimates omits some costs and overestimates revenues.

 
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