The City of Charlottetown presented a balanced budget at a public meeting of Council held at City Hall on Wednesday, March 29.
The municipality had anticipated it would need to manage a $1.5 million deficit in 2016 as well as carry a $1.5 million shortfall into 2017 after ending 2015 with a $3-million deficit. Careful budget oversight and an calmer winter meant the city didn’t end up with the deficit it anticipated.
"Thanks to the efforts of Council and our management team, we were able to mitigate our projected deficit and develop our proposed balanced budget by managing our expenditures and improving revenues. We’re also fortunate that the weather cooperated this year and we didn’t get the snowfall amounts that caused us to run a deficit in the first place," said Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee. "With all of that behind us, we need to focus now on working with the Province to secure long-term, predictable revenue sources."
The proposed 2017 Operating Budget for the City is balanced at $49.54 million and the City’s Capital Budget, as previously announced, has a gross expenditure of $21.5 million. This year’s Water and Sewer Utility operational budget, unlike last year’s $27,000 deficit, is also balanced with planned expenditures of $9.9 million. The Utility’s Capital projects for 2017 are expected to have a gross expenditure of $40.3 million.
"I am pleased to advise that a municipal property tax rate increase for residential and commercial properties is not necessary this year," said Councillor Melissa Hilton, Chair of the City’s Finance, Audit and Tendering Committee. "I am equally pleased to advise that there will be no increases in the sewer or water rates for 2017."
The City’s Visitor Information Centre hours of operation will be expanded to include Sundays, as the Capital City is expected to break past tourism records due to the Canada 150 celebrations.
Upwards of 70 per cent of the visitation to Charlottetown is primarily due to event attendance, so the City is also investing in passive and active recreation and sport infrastructure with $5.2 million for recreation operations and an additional $1.7 million in capital investment. This includes the City’s ongoing partnerships with the Bell Aliant Centre and the Eastlink Centre.
Over and above the $3.8 million operating costs budgeted for the Fire Department, Council has given the directive to issue an RFP for the location of a new fire hall to replace Station 2. $1.15 million has been set aside for land and design work, and in excess of $1-million will also be invested in new fire apparatus and asset maintenance and upkeep.
The largest budget allocation for 2017 is to Public Works. The City will spend $2.0 million maintaining municipal buildings, $1.15 million on street lighting, and $11.2 million on street maintenance. Over and above those operational costs, the City will also spend: $17.4 million in meeting its capital requirements; $2.1 million for municipal buildings and public property; $600,000 for traffic and pedestrian signals; $3-million for street resurfacing; $220,000 for urban beautification; $4.2 million for storm water management; and, $6-million for New Building Canada Fund projects, if approved.
The municipality also expects to complete the Official Plan review in 2017, along with the Miltonvale Wellfield project, and the Fitzroy Sewer Lift Station Replacement Project – among other initiatives.
"Even with all of our successes, there is no time for the City to become complacent or rest on its laurels. We continue to live in uncertain times as the Province explores a more equitable distribution of municipal funding and reviews provincial policing, school closures, and carbon tax credits versus cap and trade," said Councillor Hilton. "We know that there is much more to do, but with our limited resources the City must strive to live within its means. With a balanced budget and no increase in the municipal property tax rate, we are proud of what we have been able to accomplish."
The 2017 budget documents, including a breakdown of capital projects, is available online at www.charlottetown.ca by clicking on the Budget button or by visiting www.charlottetown.ca/budgets.php
City of Charlottetown