After almost 5 days of staring at numbers, asking questions and getting answers, Prince Edward County council has set its budget for 2017.
Here is what you need to know.
The county operating budget totals $50.5 million, but only $33.6 million of that total will be billed to taxpayers.
With growth in assessment for tax purposes, around $330,000, the tax increase will be around 3.25%.
This translates to about $30.00 per $100,000 of assessment on a house.
The average house price in Prince Edward County is slightly above $250,000 so on the average residential property, taxes will increase by around $75 a year.
Prince Edward County’s capital budget will be close to $11.6 million dollars in 2017.
The water operating budget will be almost $3.9 million, while the sewer budget will be close to $3.6 million.
The water and sewer capital budget is set at almost $2.8 million.
In an interview following the final vote on the budget, Mayor Robert Quaiff said council did good work in its almost 5 days of deliberations.
The Mayor acknowledged that some people won’t be happy with any increase in their taxes, but council has no choice but to keep looking after basic
Quaiff said provincial and federal government support is dwindling, and municipalities are becoming increasingly responsible for looking after their own business,
and it’s an expensive business.
Among other services, local communities are responsible for roads, police, fire, ambulance, long term care, libraries, and water and sewer services.
Quaiff said just going out and borrowing money would not be a good idea, so residents should expect modest increases to keep the community going in the right direction.
The Mayor was pleased that, although a bit more is coming out of reserves this year than is going in, a long term financial sustainability plan, if followed, will guarantee
The County will stabilize financially in future years.
Quaiff said there’s close to $7 million in reserve accounts now, but there was only half a million in them when this council came into office.
However, a major challenge looming is what to do with water/sewer services. Basic math dictates people aren’t paying high enough rates to actually pay for
the services they enjoy.
Mayor Quaiff says committees are working hard on the issue, and the key is to get more development in already built-up areas that have water and sewer services
to increase the number of users on systems, thereby lowering the costs of the services and a per user basis.
Asked whether lowering some grants to community organizations like the Regent Theatre was the start of a “weaning” process, the Mayor said he believed the
lower annual grants should send a clear signal to organizations that they need to do more to sustain themselves.
However he did point out that major investments were made in the budget which would provide help for youth, healthcare, and general municipal infrastructure.
$6.5 million was set aside for roadwork next year out of the $11.6 million for capital projects.