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Summerside introduces budget that tries to address issues old and new

City of Summerside Finance Committee chairwoman Norma McColeman presented her 2019/2020 budget to the public Monday night.
City of Summerside Finance Committee chairwoman Norma McColeman presented her 2019/2020 budget to the public Monday night. - Colin MacLean

The City of Summerside has introduced its $53 million 2019/2020 budget and there is a lot to unpack about it.

Deputy Mayor Norma McColeman, who is also chairwoman of the finance committee, told about 30 people who attended city hall Monday night that this year’s budget is one of “transition”.

“It is about evolving and adapting to meet the needs of our community, but it is also about building on recent success of our great city by capitalizing on opportunities as they arise,” said McColeman.

Some of the issues council chose to tackle with this budget are long-standing or often griped about issues for city residents, but others respond to new concerns councillors said they were faced with while knocking on doors in the recent municipal election.

“I think we brought in a budget that is what people want,” said Mayor Basil Stewart, who noted prior to the meeting that his was his 30th budget as mayor of the city.

 “I think people around the world are upset with governments in general and I think some of the reasons are that (governments) are always coming up with ways to increase things," said Stewart. "Council was of the opinion that let's not do that and see if we can get attraction for more development, more business and more people. I think that’s going to work.”

Unlike previous years when council would have voted Monday night to accept the budget, that vote will now take place April 15. The change is in accordance with the new Municipal Government Act, which allows the two weeks for the public to provide feedback to their mayor and councillors.

For more on this year’s budget, check out throughout the day Tuesday and in Wednesday’s print and e-editions.

Some of the budget highlights include:

  • No increases to property tax rates, water and sewer rates or user fees
  • $1 million towards preliminary planning and development of a long-talked about eco-business park
  • An as yet unspecified amount of funding to pay half the cost of hiring a school resource police officer for Three Oaks Senior High
  • $100,000 towards studying a solution to the Pope Road Extension intersection
  • $125,000 to study how to improve the city’s power buying methods
  • Breaking with long-standing city policy, Summerside Electric will not match any rate increases made this year by Maritime Electric
  • $100,000 towards new Lefurgey Subdivision playground equipment
  • $1.5 million to pay down the city’s long-term debt
  • Money to potentially raise the mayor and council honorariums by four per cent.  this is to offset the federal government’s elimination of tax credits mayor and councillors across Canada previously had access to
  • A total of $5 million from general revenues for capital improvements, including $3.3 million for electric utility capital improvements alone
  • $400,000 for new equipment and infrastructure for police and fire services
  • $580,000 for sidewalk construction and repair
  • $445,000 in community grants
  • $400,000 to rejuvinate the waterfront boardwalk

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