HRM begins annual budget process in the face of 'economic headwinds'

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage reminded his colleagues that this is the first step in creating a municipal budget. (Alexander Quon/CBC News - image credit)
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage reminded his colleagues that this is the first step in creating a municipal budget. (Alexander Quon/CBC News - image credit)

Halifax Regional Municipality's annual budget process began Friday under the shadow of a tax hike and spending cuts to address what staff calls "significant economic headwinds."

Municipal CAO Jacques Dubé is recommending a municipal tax hike of eight per cent to help the city face rising costs due to inflation.

Dubé said this would raise property payments by an average of $173 per household per year, or $14 monthly.

The change in the actual property tax rate won't be known until the budget is approved and the province finishes its yearly assessment of property values.

He said the hike could have been as high as 11 per cent if municipal business units had not found $20.5 million in budget savings.

That includes rescinding a $7-million sidewalk improvement program.

Discussion to come

Mayor Mike Savage opened the budget process by reminding his colleagues that this is the first step in a long process.

"We are four months from determining a final budget," said Savage. "There will be changes, there will be discussion."

Savage said a transparent municipal budget process means disagreements are played out in public, which he considers a good thing.

"Politics is about disagreeing in a way that elevates the process," he said.

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