Nova Scotia

Halifax regional council approves $1B budget

Halifax Regional Council approved the 2021-2022 budget on Tuesday. It includes $833 million for operating expenses and $177.9 million for capital projects.

Budget includes 1% increase to average residential, commercial tax bill

Councillors approved the 2021-2022 budget Tuesday. (Robert Short/CBC)

Halifax regional council has approved the 2021-2022 budget, which topped $1 billion.

The budget passed on Tuesday includes $833 million for operating expenses and another $177.9 million for capital projects.

"For the first time in HRM's history our budget has topped one billion dollars, which is a significant milestone," said chief administrative officer Jacques Dubé.

The budget also includes a one per cent increase to the average residential and commercial tax bill.

That means for the average single-family home with an assessment of $250,400, the property tax bill will be $2,036, or $21 more than last year.

For the average commercial property with an assessment of $1,465,300, the average tax bill will be $43,270, or $436 more than last year.

Dubé said the increase is smaller that the consumer price index.

Budget highlights

New operating increases include:

  • Quicker snow removal from transit stops — $2 million. This will mean the bus stops will be cleared in 24 hours instead of 48 hours.
  • Increase to the urban forestry plan — $1.3 million.  This will allow the program to reach 75 per cent of its target over the next three years by planting 3,100 trees annually.
  • Ten new planning staff — $805,300.
  • COVID event grant program — $750,000. This will be used to help community events across the municipality as well as encourage visitors to downtown Halifax and downtown Dartmouth by setting up performance stages.
  • Increase non-profit tax rebates for affordable housing from 25 per cent to 50 per cent — $450,000.

New capital projects include:

  • Roads, bridges and active transportation projects $60.9 million. Almost half is for road paving, $4.1 million is for a Park & Ride in West Bedford and $3.3 million is for active transportation projects and $1.3 million is for bike lanes in the regional centre 
  • MacIntosh depot replacement $4.5 million 
  • Road safety and street-calming projects $3 million. This will provide vertical deflectors for 84 streets and speed humps for all 24 school zones 
  • Ragged Lake transit centre expansion $2 million. Some of the upgrades will allow the facility to handle an electric bus fleet  
  • Mill Cove ferry service $2.9 million. This will cover engineering studies and terminal designs for a new 11-kilometre ferry route that will reduce pressure on the Bedford Highway.

One municipal service was reduced. The collection of recycled materials will no longer be done on a weekly basis.

Blue bags will instead be picked up every two weeks. The move will save the municipality $850,000 annually.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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