Tuesday, May 28, 2024

St. Mary’s council passes budget at AGM

Residential and commercial taxes each down one cent

  • April 24 2024
  • By Joanne Jordan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

SHERBROOKE — The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s has its budget in place for the 2024-25 fiscal year.

Council approved the financial plan, with no funds required from its accumulated operating surplus, which comes in at $4,081,988 – a 5.58 per cent increase over last year – at the municipality’s annual general meeting (AGM) on April 15.

When it comes to taxes, both the residential and commercial tax rates are down one cent per $100 of assessment, compared to last year’s rates. Residential and resource property ratepayers will be paying $0.96 cents per $100 of assessment, while the commercial tax rate is $2.27 per $100 of assessment.

The estimated tax revenue for the 2024-25 fiscal year will be $2,654,819.

“Council and municipal staff have worked together to develop a balanced budget to meet the needs of our neighbours in St. Mary’s,” Deputy Warden James Fuller told The Journal via email. “Through the careful application of grants, awards and responsible equipment maintenance, we were able to provide a decrease in the municipal tax rate.”

He added, “This reduction, in addition to several years of no municipal tax increases, are part of council’s determination to make St. Mary’s an active, vibrant, yet affordable, place to live.”

St. Mary’s Director of Finance and Treasurer Marian Fraser presented the municipal operating and capital budgets during the AGM.

Highlights of the financial forecast include maintaining the status quo when it comes to solid waste charges for residential customers, while there will be an increase in tipping fees at the municipal transfer station. The Sherbrooke area sewer rate remains unchanged, while there is an increase to the street light rate.

Fire levees are determined by the individual volunteer departments in the municipality.

Combined area rates are expected to generate $547,848 in revenue for the 2024-2025 fiscal year.

Estimated revenue for the operating budget, which includes grants-in-lieu of taxes, deed transfer taxes, acreage revenue, the provincial capacity grant, HST offset grant and revenue from sources, such as recreation/community development revenue, RecPlex revenue, interest on taxes and investments, permits, fine revenue and tipping fees, is $4,081,988.

Operating budget expenditures, including general government services, $831,408; protective services, $936,381; transportation services, $113,617; environmental health, $820,327; environmental development services, $162,968; recreation and cultural services, $514,312; and mandated education expense payable to the Strait Regional Centre for Education, estimated at $902,975 (an increase of 10.19 per cent), will total $4,081,988.

The protective services heading includes contributions to the province for RCMP services ($649,821), which have increased 7.5 per cent over last year, while funding for local fire departments include $55,822 in available grants and $5,500 to go towards the new First Responders Day, which is scheduled for May 1.

Under emergency measures services, additional administrative support has been budgeted to leverage grant funding to increase emergency measures coordination efforts and training.

Economic development and tourism focused funds have been budgeted to support the non-profit housing association, re-design the municipal website, partnering with organizations on climate change initiatives, fostering tourism promotion in the municipality and supporting the non-profit tourism association.

Council has increased supports and resources for summer day camp programs to help alleviate those pressures on caregivers while school is out.

New to the department budgets this year is funding to create recreation facility lifecycle plans, along with $5,000 towards equity diversity inclusion and accessibility initiatives.

General municipal grants – as part of the operating budget – will be distributed in three ways: district grants, grants to organizations ($22,000) and school scholarships ($3,000). Additional grants are also provided, including the non-profit organization property tax exemption, along with the municipal low-income property tax exemption for individuals.

There is a decrease in council remunerations because there will be two fewer councillors (going from seven to five) elected in October’s municipal election. These savings were transferred over to help increase grants to organizations.

For more information on the AGM, along with the 2024-25 municipal operating and capital budgets, visit www.saint-marys.ca.

   

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was modified from its original version on April 26, 2024 to clarify new rates.