A look at Niverville's budget

Following approval of the first reading of the 2023 budget plan, Niverville’s town council is inviting all residents to join them at the Community Resource and Recreation Centre on March 21 at 7:00 p.m. Here, they’ll have an opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback, or object to any component in the town’s newest financial plan.

Planning for this year’s budget began last December during council’s annual weekend-long roundtable sessions. According to The Municipal Act, the final adoption of a municipal financial plan must take place on or before May 15. As well, any changes to the community’s tax rate must be established by this date.

According to the new budget, it is anticipated that nearly $14 million will be needed to cover the year’s municipal expenditures. To meet that goal, council has opted for a four percent property tax increase this year.

This will mean an additional $78 in taxes on a home with an assessed value of $319,600.

This increase is thanks in part to the rise in inflationary costs, as well as mandatory minimum wage rate hikes established in October 2022 and which affected the salaries of much of the town staff.

Earlier this year, Mayor Myron Dyck told The Citizen that council was trying their best to keep the tax hike reasonable.

“Just to do what we did last year would require a seven percent increase,” said Dyck.

On February 24, it was announced that the province is adding a major top-up to municipal funding. Niverville CAO Eric King says that the extra funding will help get the town’s rainy-day reserves in a better position.

Also on the rise this year is the annual waste collection levy, which will go from $125 to $140 per household. This is the first such increase since 2020 and comes as a result of the rising costs of service providers.

Decreases to public expenses are down in only two Town of Niverville departments this year: General Government Services and Public Health and Welfare.

Even so, council is confident that they’ll be able to add more resources to the permitting department at the town office and increase their investment in information technology and cybersecurity.

The budget for protective services is up by 12.5 percent this year. As a result, Niverville will soon have its own RCMP detachment with four police members and one administrator.

Environmental Development is also up by about $130,000 as council undertakes to rewrite the town’s development plan and zoning bylaws this year.

Some of the capital project spending in store for 2023 includes a new tandem truck for the operations department and the addition of a new water tanker to the fire department.

In terms of street upgrades, council hopes to add two crosswalks along Fifth Avenue South. As well, an overhaul of a portion of Fourth Avenue South will mean major upgrades to the street, sewer, sidewalk, and ditches.

Accessibility improvements will take place at the Centennial Arena and other improvements will continue at four parks in the community, including the off-leash dog park.

At the same time, a reserve fund is being developed for a number of large capital projects that are just around the corner. Of imminent importance is the need to expand or find new space for the Operations and Fire Departments as they rapidly outgrow their existing quarters.

Funds will also soon be required for the upcoming wastewater treatment facility project.

Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen