Mount Pearl cuts city jobs, property tax in 2021 budget
Projected revenue down $3.7M next year
The City of Mount Pearl will cut four jobs and reduce infrastructure work next year to offset a projected decrease in revenue for 2021.
The budget, announced Tuesday evening, totals $56,110,612 — nearly $4 million less than the previous year.
A reduction in property value, plus expected reduced income from goods and services, led to the lost revenue.
"We've had to make tough decisions in this budget process to find savings in our operational expenditures while trying to limit the impact to our taxpayers," said Mayor Dave Aker in the statement.
Those decisions include cutting four city jobs and freezing pay for management positions. It also means cutting back on roadwork and other infrastructure projects.
Three of those four jobs are unfilled management positions, Coun. Isabelle Fry said in a phone interview. The fourth is a garbage collector position.
"It was a challenging year. We knew we were going to have some difficulties ... with COVID closing our facilities," Fry said. The city lost $1.3 million in revenue from goods and services due to the lockdown, she said.
"We've never had that before. Our city has continuously added to our tax base for some time now ... this pandemic has put a lot of unknowns and a lot of restrictions, and we were forced to find some workarounds."
Lower property taxes
Despite the revenue drop, the city reduced the residential mill rate from 7.4 to 7.1 mills, which lowers taxes for homeowners by four per cent. Along with a small decline in property value, Fry says the average household will save almost $200 annually.
"We view this as an investment back to our people," Fry said, noting council considered the financial impact of the pandemic on personal incomes. "People are the ones who need it right now."
Commercial property, business and water taxes are unchanged.
The budget allots money for a new splash pad, snowplow and other vehicle replacement, and support for community groups, as well as a "revitalization project" for the Waterford River.
"We can't lose sight of the future ... it's something that will bring a lot of joy to a lot of people," she said. "You can't just stop everything. You still have to enjoy life."
Fry said council was able to find $2.5 million in operations savings.
Town councils in Paradise and Grand Falls-Windsor also presented their 2021 budgets Tuesday evening, and will not raise mill rates.