Moncton boosts ice rate subsidy, cuts water rate hike in 2021 budget

·2 min read

Moncton council approved its 2021 budget Friday after also voting to boost a subsidy for ice time rates and removing a water rate increase.

The votes come after a Wednesday session where council went through the 464-page budget in detail.

The unanimously approved budget has no tax increase. The city's rate of $1.6497 per $100 of assessed property value has not changed since 2016.

The budget calls for city spending of $161 million on operations, $39 million on capital projects and borrowing more than $20 million next year.

Councillors also voted unanimously to increase city spending on a grant meant to reduce the cost of ice time at city-owned arenas for youth groups like minor hockey and lacrosse.

It came after several months of discussions at committee and council meetings about ice rates and how to lower the cost of participating in sports for youth.

Coun. Bryan Butler had pushed for the subsidy increase. As a former minor hockey coach, he said he saw how the game has become increasingly expensive.

"To me, we're making it a game only certain people can play," Butler said in an interview about the ice cost.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

In 2020, the city spent $344,962 to subsidize hourly ice time rental at city-owned facilities.

Figures presented to council last month indicate the ice time rate would be $237.82 before the subsidy, and $157.47 with the subsidy That compares to $130.43 in Dieppe.

Friday's vote means the city will spend an additional $87,236 next year to bring Moncton's ice rate for youth user groups within 10 per cent of Dieppe's rate.

It will also spend $10,000 more to lower the amount charged for ice time for high school hockey.

City staff had estimated it would cost a total of $23,613 to lower the high school rate on top of the $50,000 the city already budgeted to subsidize high school rates.

As well, Coun. Pierre Boudreau moved a motion Wednesday to remove a planned 1.86 per cent water rate increase from the 2021 budget. Doing so would result in the city receiving $365,000 in lower revenue.

City staff say the average resident's water and wastewater bill is $1,066 per year. Staff estimated that if the water rate increase was implemented it would have increased the cost by $16.

Staff had warned that removing it could require an increase closer to four per cent in the future if there's no increase in 2021.

"I think where we are, it gives a bit of relief," Coun. Charles Léger said Wednesday about the motion to keep the rate flat.

The change was unanimously approved Friday.