The total operating budget for the fiscal year is $17,618,907.
This year’s capital budget is $3,327,436 and will finance the Brooklyn Sewer/Water Phases 6 and 7, Henry Hensey water main, landfill compacter, Organic Transfer Station, Queens Place contract equipment, Queens Place special events equipment, sidewalk plow, truck/plow and the Region of Queens Municipality building sewer upgrade. This budget is not charged to the tax rate.
“This is a very challenging year for the Region of Queens Municipality, almost certainly the most difficult since amalgamation,” said John Leefe, mayor of the Region of Queens.
Mayor Leefe said there has been a total revenue loss of $1,290,000 since 2009-2010, the loss for this fiscal year being $400,000.
Mayor Leefe said this “wipes out new assessment revenue.”
“By supporting the provincial government’s effort to keep Bowater Mersey operating, the region is forgoing $135,000 in commercial-tax revenue,” said the mayor.
The mayor said the provincial government’s decision to not honour the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Nova Scotia’s municipalities has ended what would have been a $240,000 saving from the province.
“Instead of the approximately 14-cent increase that would be necessary to simply replace lost revenues, council has agreed to a 3-cent increase for residential, commercial and resource properties, which is proximate to the loss occurring with the provincial government’s decision to unilaterally scrap the MOU,” wrote Mayor Leefe in a press release following the budget’s approval.
The tax rate would not have gone up had the government committed to the MOU, added Mayor Leefe.
The region also approved the second $250,000 installment of its 1 million commitment to the Queens General Hospital Project, he said.
The Region of Queens’ principal courses of revenue are residential, commercial and resource property taxes, which totals $9,850,249, an increase of $411,185 over last fiscal year, said the mayor.
Other sources include transfer payments from the province, including Hills View Acres, grants in lieu of taxes from the provincial and federal governments, municipal solid waste, Queens Place, and smaller sources such as dog licenses and rentals. The amount for these sources is $7,777,142.
Mayor Leefe said residents’ largest expenditure is a transfer for education, mandated by the provincial government. This fiscal year’s education tax is $2,606,107. Police protection is the second largest expenditure.
“We have to adjust our spending so that it does not exceed our capacity to deliver at a reasonable cost to our taxpayers,” said Mayor Leefe about how to meet this year’s challenges.