Sunday, July 3, 2022

St. Mary’s delivers balanced budget with no new taxes

Staff keeps spending down despite 11 per cent jump in policing costs

  • April 13 2022
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative reporter    

SAINT MARY’S – The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s delivered a balanced budget for 2022/23 at its annual general meeting (AGM) last week, with no new taxes and no raid on the operating surplus to balance the books.

“Residential, resource and commercial property tax rates will remain the same,” Director of Finance Marian Fraser told councillors at the AGM on April 6. “That means 95 cents per $100 of assessment for residential and resource [properties] and $2.26 per $100 of assessment for commercial accounts. These rates will generate $2,219,730 of tax revenue.”

Another $508,194 in area rates (solid waste, street lights and Sherbrooke sewer); $183,888 of federal and provincial grants in lieu of taxes; $120,000 in deed transfer taxes; $52,643 in acreage revenue; $175,000 in provincial capacity grants; $11,000 in HST offset grants; and $191,937 from “own sources” (Recplex revenue, interest on taxes and investments, permits, fines, and tipping fees) brings total revenue for the year to $3,462,824.

Despite an unforeseen increase in RCMP costs charged to the municipality, the staff managed to hold the line on spending, with general government services coming in at $742,250; protective services at $874,783; transportation services at $94,000; environmental health, $671,488; environmental development services, $78,200; recreation and cultural services, $381,103; and mandated educational expenses to the Strait Regional Centre for Education estimated at $606,000. Total estimated expenditures are $3,462,824.

Last month, Fraser warned council that RCMP costs would be going up by a whopping 11.04 per cent, or $76,000, this fiscal year – a development she described as “a big hit” due to a collective agreement between the federal government and National Police Federation. Late last year, Federation of Canadian Municipalities Geoff Stewart noted in a statement that the settlement provided a 23.7 per cent increase over six years, with retroactive pay going back to 2017. Fraser also noted that continuing high revenues from deed transfer taxes, along with prudent spending, would keep the operating budget from breaking the piggy bank. Staff wages and councillor remunerations were increased by 2.5 per cent, compared with a 4.8 per cent rise in the cost of living generally across the province.

The municipality’s accumulated operating surplus is expected to be $1,741,189 by year-end, virtually unchanged from the previous year.

An open house on this year’s budget documents and presentation will occur on Wednesday, April 20, between 7 and 8 p.m., at the municipal building in Sherbrooke.