Lower taxes in proposed HRM budget
A proposed Halifax budget calls for slightly lower tax bills and more money for transit, road improvements and snow removal.
If approved, the Halifax Regional Municipality will spend $789 million on operational costs and $132 million on construction projects in 2012-13.
Richard Butts, HRM's chief administrative officer, said the growth of local government has slowed.
"[We're] finding ways to do things faster, finding ways to do things more efficiently, and finding ways to do things that supports what the taxpayers are looking for," he said Tuesday.
Under the plan, residential tax rates for the average single family home would drop by 5.5 per cent. This means a smaller tax bill because average property assessments rose by five per cent.
Commercial tax rates would also drop.
"The average business paid $38,000 last year. The tax rates will actually drop by 5.8 per cent, so that very same property will pay more than $200 less," said Bruce Fisher, HRM's manager of finance.
No change in fares
In addition to lower tax rates, the plan calls for new transit routes to the airport and Porters Lake, with no change in transit fares.
The number of sidewalks, roads and bridges to repair would go up 23 per cent. HRM would spend an extra $5 million on snow removal.
Butts said 50 vacant staff positions would be cut.
"The mandate from council was that they wanted to be much more aggressive in cost containment and in managing the business," he said.
Council will begin debating the proposed budget on Monday.
This is the last budget for this council, as municipal elections will be held in the fall.