Commercial taxes drop in Summerside; city holds line on other rates

Transcontinental Staff
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Summerside finance chair Bruce MacDougall brought down 2011 budget Monday

SUMMERSIDE - Summerside’s new look city council has made its mark on the budget by reducing the commercial tax rate by two cents per $100 of assessment from $1.92 to $1.90 and holding the line on non-commercial property tax rates and water and sewer charges.

Council has also dropped electric rates by 14 per cent to match Maritime Electric’s reduction.

Deputy Mayor Bruce MacDougall delivered the good news budget Monday night at the annual meeting to a packed city hall.

“I am very pleased that we were able to maintain the tax rate, hold the line on taxes,” MacDougall said. “And I was very pleased with the incentive we put in there to reduce the commercial rates. The commercial tax reduction is a small move, but it’s a move that helps everyone. There are a lot of good things in this budget.”

MacDougall pointed to the city’s decision not to increase user fees at any of the recreational facilities including Credit Union Place.

While many may see the power rate reduction this year as move generated by Maritime Electric, the city was able to match that reduction because of the success of its wind generation capacity. Without that wind power, city residents would have had to wait until 2012 to see any power rate reduction. It allowed the city to reduce its reliance on imported electricity by about 50 per cent over the past few years.

MacDougall said the city is bound to honour the terms of its power purchase agreement with Maritime Electric until 2012 and because of that has budgeted a deficit in the electric utility of $896,000 for 2011.

“We anticipate that this will be offset in the later years of a new contract expected to be in place in the near future,” he said.

The amount of infrastructure dollars are less in this year’s budget than in previous years.

“That’s because the stimulus dollars have been pretty well allocated,” he said. “It’s back to what we can afford right now. It’s nice having one-third dollars (the other two thirds coming from the federal and provincial governments) but 100 per cent dollars, it makes a difference.”

Despite that, the city intends to complete the Water Street redevelopment project which will include replacing aging water and sewer lines as well as resurfacing the street, installing new sidewalks and lighting to enhance the city’s downtown core. The budget includes $512,000 to complete the rebuilding of Water Street between the Summerside Rotary Library and the intersection and the intersection at Harbour Drive and $1,539,000 to complete the rebuilding of downtown Water Street by doing the section from Granville Street to Summer Street of which $850,000 will be paid for in 2012. This planned work includes about $800,000 for ditch infilling.

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

- $44 million budget for 2011

- 14 per cent reduction in electrical rates

- no increase in water and sewer fees

- no increase in recreational facilities rates

- elimination of fees for dog and cat licences

- no increase in non-commercial tax rates

- two cent reduction in commercial rates

- over $2 million for Water Street redevelopment

- $100,000 for Sustainable Tourism project initiatives

- $426,000 to various organizations within the city

- $2,308,000 for street and storm sewer up grades and ditch infilling

- $225,000 for sidewalk reconstruction

- $384,000 to extend sidewalk on Central Street from Pope Road to walker Avenue

- $130,000 to Municipal Services for capital improvements

- $693,000for Sewer Utility improvements

- $1,632,000 for water Utility improvements

- $960,000 for Electric Utility improvements including smart grid initiative

- $159,000 for new equipment for police and fire department

- $271,000 for grandstand replacement at Queen Elizabeth Park

- $250,000 for Phase 2 of the BMX bike park

- $820,000 to complete west end trail development project.

Organizations: Maritime Electric, Credit Union Place, Summerside Rotary Library Municipal Services

Geographic location: Summerside, Water Street, Granville Street Central Street Queen Elizabeth Park

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  • BigFrog
    March 29, 2011 - 15:14

    Hey Basil, Did you pay off that big white elephant Credit Union Place yet? No tax increases must mean provincial taxes are paying for it!