CommunityCouncilTop Story

CBS pokes up the mil rate as inflation continues to bite

By Mark Squibb/December 20, 2023

For the second year in a row, homeowners in CBS will see an increase in their residential tax bills.

Deputy Mayor Andrea Gosse presented a balanced budget of $42.5 million Tuesday, marking a 7.2 percent in operating costs from what was budgeted for 2023, nudging the residential property mil rate up by 0.3 mils to 7.6 mils to help match the effects of inflation.

Council last year increased the same tax by 0.15 mils.

Council is also increasing some recreation fees in 2024, and will charge sports groups for field maintenance, which was previously provided free of charge.

“We have seen an increase in costs due to inflation last year and see the same thing this year,” said Gosse, who chairs the finance committee. “We are only doing what we need to balance our budget. It was, unfortunately, a necessary increase, and we kept increases as minimal as possible.”

Mayor Darrin Bent noted that, including a slight increase in municipal assessment fees, folks paying taxes on a $300,000 home will see a tax increase of about $90, or about $7.50 a month.

Bent added the town saw record commercial growth this year, but the revenue from that was eaten by inflationary costs.

“What that tells me is that we’re on the right path, and we need to stay on that path,” said Bent.

As to the recreation fee increases, Gosse said the cost of maintaining recreation facilities has gone up year-over-year, and the increase in fees reflects that.

Water and sewer taxes will remain at $635 per residential unit and $930 per commercial unit.

Seniors Property Tax Reductions, the Seniors Property Tax Incentive, and the Low-Income Tax Reduction will continue, and council will, for the fifth consecutive year, waive residential improvement permit fees for sheds decks, fences and renovations. Council will also waive business application processing fees in 2024.

Council is eliminating building permit fees for housing projects approved under federal and provincial affordable rental programs and will offer a 50 per cent reduction in multi-unit building permit fees.

Budget 2024 will see $50,000 for the planning of a regional community centre at The Gateway, the 130-acre plot of land off Legion Road that the council of the day opened in 2011 with the intent of drawing big commercial tax revenue to CBS.

“That $50,000 is going to ensure that we get this right for our community,” said Gosse, adding more information will be coming in the new year.

As to how the facility will differ from other recreation facilities in town, Gosse likened it to the Caramilk Secret. “We’re looking at a facility for the long-term, and for the region,” said Gosse. “We’re looking at the various sports groups and communities and what they need. I don’t know that there’s anything around that’s comparable to what we envisioned.”

She said construction of the facility is contingent on the availability of funding from other levels of government as well as interest rate percentages, and the costs of construction.

“We need to time this correctly, so we get this facility at the best price, the best interest rates, and the best funding arrangements with different levels of government,” said Gosse. “So, we’re being very careful that when we do this facility, we have exactly what the community wants and needs and we have it at the best price.”

Bent said the community centre will offer much needed indoor spaces for large events.

Council will also spend heavily on Town vehicles this coming year. The budget earmarks $1 million for the purchase of a new fire truck, with council further committing to replace two more fire trucks over the next few years.

In addition, council will spend $1.5 million on new Town vehicles, an increase of over $600,000 from last year’s budget and the largest year-over-year expenditure increase within the budget outside of inflation.

“We’ve seen a number of years where we weren’t able to make these investments because the equipment wasn’t available,” Gosse explained. “And so now we’re doing a little catchup.”

The Town plans to spend $14 million on capital works projects, including water and sewer installation and upgrades, street paving, and the replacement Seal Cove River Bridge, and plans to spend on sustainability initiatives including a stormwater management study of Kelligrews River and the acquisition of a weather station.

The Town will be depending on property taxes for the lions share of revenue, some $26.8 million, followed by $7.6 million in water and sewer taxes.

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