Rates up and down

Sum­mer­side’s util­ity rates and user fees for rec pro­grams go­ing up, but taxes un­changed

Journal Pioneer - - FRONT PAGE - BY COLIN MACLEAN

If the city of Sum­mer­side’s 2018 bud­get re­mains un­changed from the preview bud­get, Sum­mer­side res­i­dents are go­ing to be pay­ing more for their util­i­ties and mu­nic­i­pal recre­ation pro­grams in 20182019. How­ever, prop­erty tax rates will stay the same. Wa­ter and sewer rates will be ad­justed up by 37 cents per month for wa­ter and 83 cents per month for sewer. Elec­tric rates from Sum­mer­side Elec­tric will con­tinue to be matched to those of Mar­itime Elec­tric and rise 2.3 per cent as of March 1.

User rates for recre­ation pro­grams will go up three per cent, though light­ing and user fees at most out­door fa­cil­i­ties will con­tinue to be free of charge. Hono­rar­i­ums for mayor and coun­cil, of­ten a con­tentious is­sue, will see no in­creases as of yet, but since Sum­mer­side’s rate is tied to Char­lot­te­town’s, this could change. Deputy Mayor and fi­nance li­ai­son Frank Costa, called the bud­get a good one that bal­ances

a num­ber of pri­or­i­ties, such as in­fra­struc­ture re­newal, ser­vices and debt re­duc­tion.

Costa cred­ited revenues from the city-owned Sum­mer­side Elec­tric with help­ing to keep prop­erty taxes from in­creas­ing, as they have been since the city was in­cor­po­rated in 1995.

In terms of the util­ity and recre­ation in­creases, Costa said they are rea­son­able in­creases in­tended to help pay for on­go­ing main­te­nance and up­grades.

“We’re try­ing to stay ahead of what our op­er­at­ing costs are. We want those util­i­ties to be self-suf­fi­cient so that we’re not in­cur­ring any deficit in their op­er­a­tions,” he said.

In terms of the recre­ation fees go­ing up, Costa said the in­crease was nom­i­nal and the city would con­tinue to not charge for things, such as use and light­ing of the out­door sports fields and pre-school skat­ing at Credit Union Place. Other high­lights from the bud­get in­clude a new splash pad for Legere Park on Cen­tral Street at a cost of $118,000. An ad­di­tional $100,000 is also in­cluded for play­ground equip­ment up­grades. Com­mu­nity groups are get­ting a to­tal of $435,000 in grants. The city in­tends to spend nearly $10 mil­lion (in­clud­ing fed­eral and pro­vin­cial funding) in wa­ter, sewer and elec­tric in­fra­struc­ture work.

The city is also pro­ject­ing a $2.5-mil­lion de­crease in the city’s gen­eral cap­i­tal fund debt, which cur­rently sits at $30.6 mil­lion. Sum­mer­side Mayor Bill Martin said he was pleased with how the bud­get shook out, adding that coun­cil and the var­i­ous de­part­ment man­agers in the city all sat down to­gether this year to tackle what dis­cre­tionary spend­ing there was. Coun­cil has tra­di­tion­ally done this sep­a­rate from the man­agers, but Martin said their de­lib­er­a­tions went much smoother than other years be­cause they were in­cluded.

Over­all, Martin said 2018 is shap­ing up to be a good one for the city.

“We man­aged to strike a pretty good bal­ance, and I want to thank the eight of you,” he said, speak­ing to coun­cil­lors. Martin also ac­knowl­edged that this will be his last city bud­get as mayor, as he has de­cided not to run again in mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions sched­uled for later this year.

A preview of the city’s lat­est $63-mil­lion bud­get was in­tro­duced at a public meet­ing, Mon­day.

In a de­par­ture from pre­vi­ous years, coun­cil did not vote on the doc­u­ment at that meet­ing. The new Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment Act re­quires at least two weeks be­tween the in­tro­duc­tion of a mu­nic­i­pal bud­get and the vote to ac­cept it. This is to al­low public in­put. Sum­mer­side has de­cided to wait a lit­tle longer than re­quired and will vote on the bud­get at its Feb. 20 meet­ing.

This year’s bud­get is also un­usual in that it cov­ers 15 months, rather than the usual 12. This is again a re­sult of the new act mov­ing the city’s bud­get year to a fis­cal time­frame rather than a cal­en­dar one.

As a re­sult of this one-time shift, many of the num­bers rep­re­sented in the bud­get will di­verge from their usual amounts, as they rep­re­sent a longer time­frame than the 2017 bud­get.

COLIN MACLEAN/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Sum­mer­side Deputy Mayor and fi­nance li­ai­son Frank Costa de­liv­ers the city’s an­nual 2018/2019 bud­get ad­dress dur­ing a public meet­ing Mon­day morn­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.