Carbonear budget includes tax increase
Deputy Mayor says effects of change will be minimal with most property assessments declining
Mill rates in Carbonear are going up, though finance committee chair Chris O’Grady says a decline municipal assessments will largely even things out.
Residential property owners in Carbonear should prepare for a slight increase in tax rates in the coming year.
During a regular meeting of council, held on Tuesday, Dec. 18, Deputy Mayor Chris O’Grady, chair of the town’s finance committee, went over the 2019 budget, which includes matching revenues and expenditures totalling $7,723,357.
Early in the discussion, O’Grady noted that some adjustments needed to be made to tax rates to balance the budget.
Residential property tax has seen a small increase, going up 0.3 mills to a total of 6.9 mills. Meanwhile, commercial property tax rates will receive a 0.5 mill decrease, landing at 9.25 mills.
O’Grady noted there’s a four per cent decrease in residential property assessments for Carbonear and a five per cent increase in commercial property assessments. Commercial water and sewer rates will decrease to 6.25 mills — a 0.25 mill change.
“While assessed property rates will vary, the overall effects of these changes on property owners will be minimal,” O’Grady said of the increases.
The deputy mayor also went into detail about one of the town’s largest expenses — the town’s roads and transportation services.
“As with any town, our largest area of expenditure continues to be in the area of transportation services, which is projected to have an expenditure amount of $2,367,325 in 2019,” he went on to say. “As the councillors can attest, one of the main priorities of the residents of Carbonear is the condition and maintenance of the town roads. This budget includes operating expenditure amounts of $600,000 for the asphalt, and $60,000 for curb and sidewalk.”
Applications have been sent out under the municipal capital works program for a number of water and sewer projects, as well as street paving projects. The funds have been budgeted this year in anticipation of those applications being successful.
There is also some room for upgrades to the town equipment in this year’s budget. Specifically, this includes the replacement of two pickup trucks, one backhoe, a single axle dump truck and one loader.
A budget of $1,145,475 was also allocated this year for the maintenance and improvement of the town’s recreational facilities and cultural services, something O’Grady said was an important area of expenditures for the town.
Improvements to the outside of the local swimming pool and the installation of a wheelchair accessible change room are among some of the things on the radar for that money, as well as applications for funds to expand the Princess Sheila NaGeira theatre building.
For the third year in a row, costs for waste collection and disposal remain unchanged. O’Grady noted that the town’s annual cleanup day, as well as the curbside recycling program in Carbonear continue to be an effective means of keeping these costs at a manageable level.
“Carbonear continues to improve as an environmentally friendly community, thanks to the efforts of our residents,” he said.
The total amount budgeted for environmental health came in at $658,200 — a continued decline from previous years.
The Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department also got some mention in this year’s budget, as $115,750 had been allocated for fire protection services. From this, $10,000 will go toward repairs for the roof of the former depot garage, which will be used by the brigade for storage.
Funding applications have also been sent out with hopes of getting the brigade a new pumper truck, given that the current truck has reached its life expectancy of approximately 20 years.
On top of the approximately $700,000 the town received in September of this year for the town’s downtown revitalization project, O’Grady said $20,000 has been allocated for a recent plot of land the town purchased on Water Street, which they hope to use as a community market.
“A growing town with aging infrastructure will also have extensive needs. Our current council is dedicated to addressing these needs as quickly as possible,” O’Grady said of infrastructure improvements in the town’s future, adding that the town has been lobbying both provincial and federal governments for assistance in this area.
“Government funding agreements for 80 per cent of the cost for such projects will substantially increase the speed at which our needs can be addressed.”
In 2018, there were 428 development permits issued by the town, with a total estimated development value of $6.3 million.
Of those 428 permits, 11 were for new residential home starts.
Twelve new business permits were also issued last year. Eight of those were commercial, and four home-based.
As well, O’Grady was happy to report that the town continues to be deficit-free, and the town’s debt service ratio of 14 per cent remains unchanged from last year. This number is well below the 30 per cent threshold set by the Department of Municipal Affairs.
Toward the end of his presentation, O’Grady noted that the town understands the difficulties sometimes associated with paying one’s taxes on time. To aid in this, he advised that residents can make use of the town’s interest adjustment policy, which assists residents with a combined family income of under $50,000. Eligible residents can contact the town office for more information.
“This council is dedicated to maintaining growth and development for the Town of Carbonear, and to provide the many amenities and services our residents deserve. This is truly a wonderful place to live, work, and play, and we’re looking forward to the year ahead,” O’Grady said in closing his budget presentation.
Deputy Mayor Chris O’Grady presented the 2019 municipal budget for Carbonear on Tuesday, Dec. 18.