PORT ELGIN, NB – Residents and businesses in the village of Port Elgin will see a small increase in their tax rates for 2014. The 2014 rate, 1.3026 for each $100 of assessed property value, is an increase of .0574 over the 2013 rate of 1.3600.
At Monday’s regular meeting, the village council passed a motion to accept the new budget for 2014.
Mayor Judy Scott said the increase was unavoidable due to the ongoing repairs to the village’s aging utility system.
“Our water and sewerage system is more than 35 years old now so we’re now dealing with some very expensive repairs on top of the regular maintenance costs. When you’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs and upgrades, that money has to come from somewhere,” she said.
Council also had to deal with several extensive decreases in property values within the village, which resulted in a loss of revenue over the 2013 annual warrant, funds raised through property taxes. The village has an assessed tax base of $20,864,600, a reduction of $1,038,350 over the 2013 assessment of $21,902,950. That reduction translates to a loss of about $13,500 in property taxes.
Port Elgin’s 2014 total budget of $493,975 is an increase of only about $8500 over that of 2013. The village managed to hold the line on proposed expenditures by trimming its expenses wherever possible.
“We’ve had to cut back across the board, a little bit here and there in order to keep the tax rate as low as possible. Everybody has to tighten their belts even more this year,” she said.
The village posted a second year previous surplus (surplus funds from its 2012 budget) of $13,037, which also helped to offset a larger tax increase.
Costs for public services take a big bite out of the annual municipal budget. The bill for RCMP coverage increased from $58,855 in 2013 to $61,441 for this year – an increase of $25.86 per capita - while the projected cost for fire protection services went up about $8,000 to $116,122 for 2014. Scott noted that the village shares the cost of fire protection services with the areas’ local service districts, with the village kicking in only about 25 per cent of the total annual budget.
The village budget for summer road maintenance work remains the same as 2013, at $14,000. Deputy-mayor Terry Legere noted that amount wasn’t nearly enough to complete the many road repairs needed, but said the village would do the best it could with the money it has, to address the worst road issues this year.
“We’ve had a lot of complaints about potholes, particularly on Mill and Spring Streets. We might be able to look at putting in some cold patches just to get us through until the summer; but it depends on how much that would cost,” he said.
Council reduced the annual budget for the library, administrative and recreation departments and also managed to post a lower cost for auditing services, which are mandated by the provincial government.
The total budget for utilities is $136,187 for 2014 with the average cost per household service up only $15 over that of 2013, bringing the annual water and sewage bills to $355 per household.
The total number of equivalent residential users in the village is 209.