The City of Charlottetown presented a balanced budget for 2015 at a public meeting of Council held at City Hall on Friday, March 27. The City is projecting a budget of $46.75 million, and the Water and Sewer Utility is projecting a budget of $10.35 million.
The City was able to avoid a five per cent tax increase thanks to an injection of $1.5 million from the provincial government due to the added burden placed on the City from the last two winters. Council was also able to present a budget that avoids an increase in the Utility rates for sewer and water this year.
"We are extremely pleased to balance our budget without the need for a tax increase or Water and Sewer Utility rate increase," said Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee. "That said, more than 90 per cent of all City revenue comes from property taxes. An increasing amount of that revenue goes to the Province each year, despite the fact that the services we are required to provide have continued to increase. Taking into account the challenges in balancing our budget this year, we are pleased with the end results. There were other initiatives that council would have liked to pursue, however, with the current financial limitations this was not possible without increasing the tax rate. We have made every effort to achieve the service levels necessary for our City to remain a place where great things happen."
Councillor Melissa Hilton, Chair of the City’s Finance, Audit and Tendering Committee, said the provincial funding announced on March 26 made it possible for the City to balance its budget.
"The provincial funding of $1.5 million is tremendous and we are appreciative, but it is a one-time solution that doesn’t address the root issue," Councillor Hilton said. "Without a permanent solution to the revenue sharing issue that sees the City receive a fair share of the tax room, the likelihood of a tax increase looms for future budgets. In the absence of an equitable property tax formula, the City can neither sustain its history of no tax increases nor maintain its current service level."
Included within the City’s plans for expenditures includes allocations such as: $5.025 million to Public Works for traffic and pedestrian signal upgrades, street lighting, fleet acquisition, storm water management, major street work, property purchases and municipal buildings upgrades; $542,840 to Parks and Recreation for the second phase of lighting for the Confederation Trail, parks and playground equipment, buildings and field improvements; $250,000 for the Victoria Park Design Implementation; $100,000 for the Heritage Squares Retrofit Program; $500,000 for the City’s Dutch elm disease management plan; $150,000 for Fire Hall Design; and $250,000 for Transit subject to Provincial participation with the acquisition of replacement buses
Council has resolved to maintain its tax incentive grant programs to encourage development, and the City is continuing its commitment to the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan with the goal to create a vibrant and sustainable City.
The City will also continue with many of its partnerships including supporting the CARI Complex and Civic Centre, as both facilities provide excellent venues for hosting high-level sports teams and community events.
The 2015 budget documents, including a breakdown of capital projects and initiatives being undertaken by each department, is available online and can be accessed at www.charlottetown.ca by clicking on the Public Budget button or by visiting: www.charlottetown.ca/budgets.php
City of Charlottetown