SUMMERSIDE - City residents will see property tax rates remain unchanged and will be paying more for water and sewer services in 2014.
© Mike Carson/Journal Pioneer
Councillors Tina Mundy and Peter Holman listen as Deputy Mayor Bruce MacDougall delivers his 2014 municipal budget address. The budget holds the line on property taxes, predicts reductions in the city’s long-term debt and accumulated deficit Water and sewer rates will rise
Deputy Mayor Bruce MacDougall, chairman of the city’s finance committee, delivered the 2014 budget Monday at the city’s annual general meeting.
Two important aspects of the document were the projections of reducing the municipal long-term debt to about $65 million, down $1.2 million from a year ago, and a drop in the accumulated deficit to $262,000.
The city will be involved in several capital improvement projects totalling more than $12 million, the largest of which is $4.4 million for street and storm sewer upgrades.
MacDougall said the main focus of this expenditure will be a ditch infilling program.
He said the entire situation will be reviewed and a plan set out that will let homeowners know when their ditches will be infilled and the storm sewers installed. He said it will be a long-term project.
“Council has to look at a lot of these projects and to ignore them is the wrong thing to do,” MacDougall said. “We came together as a council and said even if we have to go out and borrow more money this year it’s something that has to be done. If we allow these things to wait until you can afford them, they’re never going to be done.
The deputy mayor was satisfied with the numbers.
“I think it’s a fair budget,” MacDougall said. “We took a lot of things under consideration as we did in other years, but we just had a little different look at it this year. We tried to put the money where we’re going to get the best benefit from it. We need to see if we can leverage more money through infrastructure programs. We need to see if we can stretch those dollars as far as we can.”
Two areas of the budget that will see increases are the monthly rates paid for water and sewer services in the city, but MacDougall said these hikes are justified.
“Our water rates have to go up, but that’s something that has to happen. We have to have dependable water and sewer systems,” he said. “The deficit has been growing on those and to ignore it is the wrong thing.”
Debt reduction has been a priority for council for several years and inroads are being made, the deputy mayor said.
“Lowering the deficit and the debt, it’s where we need to go,” he said. “We’ve been tackling that for the last number of years, We have a new CAO this year and a new director of finance, but even under (former finance director) Malcolm Millar, it was a priority to reduce our debt. We’ve stayed on track and it’s coming along very good right now.”