Sunday, April 21, 2024

St. Mary’s taxes up slightly amid rising costs

2023-24 budget up 11 per cent from last year

  • April 12 2023
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

ST. MARY’S — The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s delivered a balanced budget of $3,866,344 for 2023/24 at its annual general meeting last week (April 4), representing an 11.6 per cent increase in both spending and revenue over the previous year’s $3,462,824.

Residential and resource property tax rates were up slightly to 97 cents per $100 of assessment, compared with 95 cents last year, as were commercial rates ($2.28 per $100, compared with $2.26). Together, these measures were expected to generate $2,469,333.

On top of this, higher area rates were expected to generate $543,646, up from $508,194 last year. These included increases in solid waste (from $99.82 to $110.82), streetlights (from $71.85 per account to $81.70) and Sherbrooke sewer ($215 per unit to $220).

Other revenue sources included: $186,819 in federal and provincial grants in lieu of taxes; $120,000 in deed transfer taxes; $52,862 in acreage revenue; $175,432 in provincial capacity grants; $10,500 in HST offset grants; and $307,751 from “own sources” (Recplex revenue, interest on taxes and investments, permits, fines and tipping fees).

On the spending side of ledger, protective services of $927,096 included: grants to fire departments; EMO, corrections and RCMP-mandated funding; and building inspection and animal control services.

Environmental health of $802,525 included: Sherbrooke Sewer Utility expenses (chemicals, power, maintenance); Municipal Transfer Station expenses (garbage/recyclable contract, tipping fees, waste disposal, and general maintenance); public works staffing; and snow clearing for municipal properties and sidewalks.

General government services of $783,397 included: warden and councillor honorariums and expenses; administration staff salaries and expenses; office supplies and computer expenses; municipal solicitor and audit fees; administrative office expenses; janitorial; phone and power; photocopier and postage; maintenance; municipal insurance; low-income tax exemptions; allowance for uncollectable taxes; and payments to Property Valuation Services Corporation.

Recreation and cultural services of $457,188 included: St. Mary’s Recplex salaries, power, insurance and general maintenance; recreation and community development programming and salaries; monthly municipal newsletter; Sherbrooke Library expenses; General Government Grants; and community hall tax exemptions.

Environmental development services of $124,672 included: planning, land use and subdivision services; economic development officer salary; economic development projects; tourism initiatives; and small business supports.

Transportation services of $104,500 included: provincial and Nova Scotia Power maintenance expenses on J-class roads and street lighting, respectively.

Finally, the mandated education expense payable to the Strait Regional Centre for Education was estimated at $637,966.

Council also approved motions to dissolve several of its committees, which had served out their mandates: Active Transportation, Land Development, Assessment Management, and Heritage Advisory.

The St. Mary’s budget open house will occur at the municipal building in Sherbrooke on Wednesday, April 29, from 6-7 p.m.