Car­bon­ear bud­get in­cludes tax in­crease

Deputy Mayor says ef­fects of change will be min­i­mal with most prop­erty as­sess­ments de­clin­ing

The Compass - - Front page - BY CHRIS LEWIS [email protected]­n­com­pass.ca

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.

CHRIS LEWIS/THE COM­PASS

Deputy Mayor Chris O’Grady pre­sented the 2019 mu­nic­i­pal bud­get for Car­bon­ear on Tues­day, Dec. 18.

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