Summerside budgets $10M for eco-business park
City holds the line on taxes, increases water and sewer rates
The City of Summerside is investing $10 million in what it describes as "a game-changing economic anchor" in the city.
The investment in an eco-business park, a six-hectare centre near Credit Union Place, is one of the largest expenditures in the city's 2020-2021 budget, which was released Monday night in Summerside.
Coun. Norma McColeman, Summerside's finance chair, said the eco-park will create "many good-paying jobs" in the city, and increase the city's commercial tax base.
"The eco-park concept represents the culmination of many years of effort, and incorporates new approaches to conventional planning practices to foster economic development, without compromising the safety of the environment," McColeman said during her budget address.
"More importantly, this represents an important step in developing a game-changing economic anchor for our city, and to set us apart from other municipalities in Atlantic Canada."
Highlights of the budget included:
A $53-million balanced budget.
Last year's projected balanced budget turned into a $2-million deficit after unexpected expenditures, including the replacement of a street sweeper and cleanup and restoration after post-tropical storm Dorian.
No property tax increases.
Electricity rates will not increase for customers of the city's own utility.
Water and sewer rates will increase by 1 per cent or 61 cents per month for residential customers.
User rates for ice and pool rentals will increase by three per cent.
$22.6 million in capital investments.
Review of fire station no.1 will determine whether it can be renovated or needs to be replaced. The station is more than 50 years old.
Intersections at Pope Road and Greenwood Drive, and Central Street and Pope Road will see significant upgrades.
Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart said residents made it loud and clear on the campaign trail in the fall of 2018 that they did not want a tax increase.
"We brought in a balanced budget, and no increases in taxes or electrical rates, so I am very pleased about that and I'm sure the citizens are," Stewart told CBC News following the budget address.
The 2020 budget also increased pay for the mayor and council by two per cent.
McColeman said residents told them that if they needed to bring in more money, they should do it through user-pay increases, like increases to ice and pool rentals, rather than widespread tax increases.
"We believe that by not increasing rates, we will attract more development, more business, more families and more jobs to our city," she said.
We are sending out the signal that we are open for business.""