No agreement, and no budget, at City of Iqaluit
Iqaluit city councillors have been unable to pass a budget since the end of January.
It’s largely due to a dispute over whether to raise the mill rate — that’s the number used to calculate property taxes.
In January, city staff proposed a mill rate hike of $3. Councillors sent that back to the drawing board, demanding that the rate hike be limited to a $1.
Last night’s meeting ground to a halt when councillors defeated another motion to raise the mill rate by $1.50.
Then Councillor Romeyn Stevenson, who voted in favour of the increase, did something no one expected.
“I officially resign my position from the chair of the finance committee,” he said.
Stevenson says after two votes on the mill rate increase, and two defeats, it's time to move on.
“I feel like there is a lack of confidence on council for me as that chair, so I felt that it was time for me to step aside and let someone else deal with that.”
Councillor Kenny Bell has been against the mill rate increase from the beginning, but he says he's not worried about the city operating without a budget.
“Our staff have been saving where they can. And not spending where they can,” Bell says. “They know the budget hasn't been passed yet and they're working within the 25 per cent that we approved at the start of this thing.”
Councillor Terry Dobbin also voted against the mill rate hike.
He wants to take money from the city’s reserve fund to give ratepayers a break for 2014.
“I know there's inflation but from 2013 to 2014, but the mill rate has gone through the roof as far as I'm concerned. And the people who are going to be suffering are the ratepayers.”
Last night, council approved a second interim operating budget, then sent the main budget back to the finance committee.
Council will ask the Department of Community and Government Services to extend the budget submission deadline to March 14.
The city's budget operates by calendar year. That means the budget council is working on now will run until Dec. 31, 2014.