Sackville Budget Meeting 2009

The Sackville council has managed to keep the tax rate the same as last year, despite higher than usual operating costs.

The annual budget increased to 8.96 million from last year’s 8.64 million, but the councilors have tightened their belts and held the taxes at $1.535 per $100 of assessment.

Rising operating costs are due to increases in power bills, provincial taxes and staff salaries as well as new costs such as a full time fire chief, an increase in firefighting training allowances, an increase in RCMP costs, and an increase in short term financing costs to pay for the new town hall and emergency services building while it waits for long term financing.

An additional $300,000 in expenses should have resulted in a four cent increase to municipal taxes,
but through diligent budgeting, the town of Sackville has managed to hold the taxes at same rate that was set in 2004.

The town may have been helped in achieving this balance with an increase in the town’s tax base due to new constructions, renovations and a possible increase in the assessed value of properties in the municipality.

John Higham, liaison councilor for the finance department, also explained about a new ‘property tax accountability mechanism’ that is designed to clarify the links between assessment growth, inflation, service levels and property taxes.

This is the first year in which the government offered this ‘mechanism’ which actually generated a lower tax rate for the municipality by calculating last year’s tax base plus the value of new construction and multiplied by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at 0.6 percent. This figure is supposed to represent the cost of providing the same level of local services as the previous year.

Councilor Higham says that he likes the tool, “and the idea that people will talk about the ‘tax rate’ rather than the assessment”, but questions the efficacy of the tool as long as it does not include recently downloaded costs to the municipal government, such as firefighter insurance benefits and transferred contributions to the Planning Commission, at an added cost to the municipality of more than $45,000 altogether.

The town decided not to use the rate generated by the new property tax accountability tool because it would have meant $31, 000 less revenue. Councilors opted to keep the tax rate the same as last year.

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