Moncton tax rate holds steady in 'challenging' budget year
Moncton city councillors are expected to take 2 days to wade through the 2018 operating budget
The City of Moncton held the tax rate steady in its proposed $150-million operating budget, which an official said wasn't easy because of the Liberal government's freeze on property assessments.
"Because of the assessment freeze, we've lost $2.5, $2.6 million — a significant amount of potential revenue we would have expected based on sort of normal growth that we would have received," said deputy treasurer Gregg Houser.
He said $1.6 million in savings was found in the budget plans of a variety of departments.
"So what's had to happen is we had to look internally: how could we have those savings, find those savings from more efficiencies. And you'll see as we go through the budget, each department has come forth with areas they can find efficiencies and save money."
The Liberal government imposed the assessment freeze after it got so many assessments wrong and made up others earlier this year. Municipalities have complained about the freeze's impact on their budgets, and some critics have suggested it was linked to the coming election year.
Houser said Moncton is still not sure what the equalization grant from the province will be. In 2012, the city received $11.2 million, and last year that figure dropped to $3.2 million.
"We tried to be as conservative as possible based on consultation and discussions we had with Assessment New Brunswick and local government," Houser said.
"We've put in a basic zero increase, so if we do get some increase, that'll be a bonus and probably put that towards reserves and things like that."
It will be a while before the city gets the final figures from the province.
"That's not going to come until the end of November likely, so once we find that, that's when council will sign off and we can go to council with a final resolution," he said.
Councillors spent all day Thursday going through the budget, department by department.
Deliberations will continue Friday.
The budget is expected to be approved Dec.18.
The city's $37.6 million utility budget was also introduced.
Residential water rates will go up 2.7 per cent, which means the average single family household will see an increase of $27 a year.