Carbonear cuts tax rate for 2021

·4 min read

In a year of bad news, Carbonear council has some good news for residents — property taxes are going down.

The town passed its 2021 budget and tax structure during a special videoconference meeting on December 10.

“We are projecting matching revenues and expenditures totalling $8,576,021,” said Deputy Mayor and finance committee chairman Chris O’Grady, who presented the budget.

O’Grady said residential property assessments had actually increased by about three percent, while commercial property assessments increased by about nine percent. Mil rates are often increased to offset decreasing property values, so increased property values spells good news for residents.

The Town is ending the current year with a surplus of funds because of projects that had been cancelled due to COVID-19.

“Due to restrictions implemented by the town and the government, there were expenditures budgeted for 2020 which did not occur. This results in a surplus of funds for 2020. With this surplus being carried forward to 2021, combined with the increase of property assessments, we have decided to implement a decrease of tax rates for 2021,” said O’Grady.

Council will decrease the residential property tax mil rate from 6.9 mils to 6.75 mils, and will reduce the commercial property tax mil rate from 9.25 mils to 9 mils.

“As with any town, our largest area of expenditure continues to be in the area of transportation services, which is projected to have an expenditure of $2,735,297,” said O’Grady.

The budget includes operating expenditures for asphalt of $920,000 and $60,000 for curb and sidewalks and replacement equipment. Meanwhile, the town has submitted in excess of $5 million in multi-year capital works funding applications for 2021 for street projects, including the continuation of the Downtown revitalization projects, the next phase of Valley Road, a section of Adelaide Street, and Lemarchant Road extension. O’Grady said the Town’s portions of funds for these projects has been set aside.

Some $1.152 million is being earmarked for recreational facilities and cultural services next year. Funds have been allocated for softball huts, scoreboards and other maintenance in hopes of the 2020 U19 Softball Nationals being hosted at the recreation complex in 2021. That competition was scheduled for 2020, but was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The Town will also be putting $50,000 towards a recreation accessibility initiative. The budget for Environmental Health has been set at $746,189, including reserve funds for new wastewater infrastructure additions. “Federal wastewater effluent regulations have put strains on many municipalities in our province to comply with the required timelines. The Town of Carbonear will require costly infrastructure additions in the coming years,” said O’Grady. “In preparation for this, and in keeping with the commitments made in the previous year’s budget, we will again be allocating $100,000 in a reserve to help prepare for this capital obligation. This contribution will bring the reserve to $600,000.”

The Town has budgeted $106,250 for fire protection services, $120,000 to replace the self-contained breathing apparatuses used by the firefighters, and roughly $140,000 towards a new fire truck, expected to arrive early in the new year.

Meanwhile, Phase Two of the Downtown Revitalization project, which was expected to be completed in 2020, will continue in 2021. Applications for Phase Two have been approved, while applications for Phase Three have been submitted.

Some $244,843 has been budgeted for Planning and Development. In 2020, a total of 509 development permits were issued, for an estimated development value of $3.9 million. Eight of these were for new homes, while 13 business new permits were issued, with nine being commercial and four being home-based.

The Debt Service Ratio also decreased from 14 percent to 12 percent.

“I would like to thank the deputy mayor and all those involved in presenting a balanced budget, and more importantly, a reduction in our residential and business mil rate, said Mayor Frank Butt. “Without our residents and corporate citizens, we would not exist. This is a small way of helping during these difficult times.”

Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News