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Sackville expected to hold steady on tax rate, municipal services in 2020

This pie chart shows how Sackville’s operating budget will be doled out in 2020, if approved next Monday night.
This pie chart shows how Sackville’s operating budget will be doled out in 2020, if approved next Monday night. - Contributed

Operating budget set to come forward for approval next week

SACKVILLE, N.B. —

The town of Sackville is looking to hold the line on a budget that will bring no municipal tax increases or changes to public services in 2020.

The final draft of the budget is expected to come forward for town council’s approval next Monday night, following a series of budget meetings and deliberations held over the past couple of months.

“What we looked at when we created the budget was to manage the budget with maintaining the current service levels that we provide today,” said town treasurer Michael Beal.

The first draft of the budget, presented to council at a special meeting Nov. 18, shows a general operating budget of about $11.33 million, up about three per cent from 2019.

Beal explained that the three per cent increase in the town’s operating costs, which is estimated at about $348,000, will be mostly offset by a three per cent increase to the town’s property tax base. He attributed a significant portion of that increase to Terra Beata’s new freezer plant in the industrial park and the renovations to Windsor Hall at Mount Allison University. Nearly 90 per cent of the town’s revenues come from property taxes so any increase to the tax base can have an impact, he said.

Beal said the final budget could see some slight changes from the first draft as the town receives more official numbers from the province related to property tax assessment and unconditional grants, but he doesn’t anticipate any huge shifts. This means, if the budget is approved, the tax rate will remain the same as last year, at $1.56 per $100 of assessment.

He also noted the town will be able to do all of its general capital projects next year without any borrowing; but will still need to borrow about $462,000 for utility projects, such as purchasing a new excavator and improvements to the water treatment plant.

Meanwhile, in presenting the 2020 utility operating budget, Beal said water and sewer rates will go up again next year, part of a rate increase that was approved by council back in 2017. This will be the fourth year of a five-year rate increase to cover the necessary expense of the water/sewer utility as well as to allocate money into the reserve fund to build and plan for the future sewer lagoon upgrades.

Under the 2020 rate hike, the largest single group of residential water users, those who pay the minimum charge, will see their quarterly bills increase by $9.10 ($36.40 annually) - going up to $108.40 per quarter.

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