Marystown mil rate cut; taxes still climb
Marystown residential and commercial property owners are getting a break in this year’s tax rates, but many will still end up paying more.
The total balanced budget came in with revenue and expenditures at $5,111,353.
Finance Committee chair Coun. Dave Brenton, who tabled the municipal budget for 2010 during Tuesday’s public meeting, explained council had decided a reduction from 9 mils to 8.5 was in order to help absorb high property assessment increases.
An issue in many communities throughout the province, assessments in Marystown went up 21 per cent on average last fall.
Coun. Brenton suggested council could have reduced the rate a little further to wipe out the increases entirely, but likely would have had to raise taxes slightly regardless to cover the many projects and developments that have been undertaken in the town.
“Right now, over the last year or year and a half, our council has been very ambitious in my opinion.”
Acceptance of the budget, however, was not unanimous.
Coun. Charles Wiscombe voted against the motion to adopt the financial document, as well as another one to set the interest rate for overdue taxes – due this year on or before Apr. 30 – at 12 per cent annually.
He later explained his decision did not reflect on the efforts of Town Clerk/Manager Dennis Kelly or Treasurer Shirley Labour.
“It’s some things that I personally looked at. I won’t rehash what I said (in the session prior to the council meeting) because I don’t want to grandstand. I didn’t like what was said out there to me. I’ll say that publicly.”
Coun. Brenton indicated earlier in the meeting council would receive $931,877 through the Gas Tax Fund over the next four years. During the budget presentation, he explained a decision had been made to apply the money against the town’s share of borrowing for future water and sewer projects.
It was noted doing so would help bring the town’s increasing debt ratio back down to a more comfortable level.
He said between 25 to 30 per cent is an acceptable amount for a town of Marystown’s size was, but explained lately the debt ratio was in the 31 to 32 per cent range.
“Because of all this work we’re doing, our debt ratio was starting to creep up.”
Mayor Sam Synard, who suggested council has “run a tight ship” budgetwise, acknowledged he was pleased. He surmised he could foresee the budget growing to upwards of $6 or $7 million in the years ahead.
“I think Marystown, as a small, rural community, we’re in great financial shape.”