Summerside budget includes council raises, long-term debt reduction

Nancy MacPhee nmacphee@journalpioneer.com
Published on February 8, 2016

Finance Chairman Frank Costa delivering the 2016 budget address for the City of Summerside earlier Monday, Feb. 8.

©TC MEDIA/Nancy MacPhee

City will also increase community grant allowance, increase water and sewer rate

Summerside's mayor and council will see an increase in their pay cheques.

A 22 per cent increase in honorariums for the city's legislators was one of the items announced in the 2016 budget released earlier today at city hall.

That increase brings the mayor's annual salary to $50,000, up from $43,000 in 2015. The deputy mayor will see a $5,000 pay increase, going from $22,000 to $27,000, while individual councillors will be paid $25,000 a year, up from $20,000 in 2015.

While the mayor and council will be taking home more money in 2016, residents will be digging a little deeper with a five per cent increase in their water and sewer rates, equating to an extra $2.80 total on their water and sewer bills. 

There will be no increase in property tax rates in the city's $49 million budget. Of that amount, $22 million is being spent on general government expenses and $27 million on city utilities. 

Electricity rates were recently adjusted by 2.3 per cent, effective March 1, to stay in line with Maritime Electric's rates.

While the city expects to reduce its long-term debt by $2.2 million, it plans to borrow $8 million to offset capital improvements, as well as the purchase of two new fire trucks and storm sewer work. 

A total of $11.4 million is being spent on capital improvements, with the remaining $3.7 million coming from the city's general revenues. 

In the budget, delivered by finance committee chairman Coun. Frank Costa, community grant spending is set to increase from $380,000 to $400,000 in 2016.

Support for Downtown Summereside is set at $73,000, the same as in 2015, to supplement that organization's Business Improvement Levy.

The city will spend $3.5 million for street and storm sewer upgrades, while more than $330,000 will be spent on new sidewalks and sidewalk reconstruction, down from $600,000 in 2015.

A total of $1 million is being set aside for improvements to the sewer utility while $1.2 million will be spent on upgrades to the city's water utility. 

The city is devoting almost $2.8 million to the electric utility for capita improvements. 

Things that will remain unchanged include rates for recreation, arts and culture programs and, again in 2016, user fees and lighting charges at all City of Summerside outdoor recreation facilities will be eliminated.

Pre-school skates at Credit Union Place will again be free.

Finance director Rob Philpott called the fiscal plan for 2016 a "prudent budget," one, he said, helps the city in "planning for the future."

"Overall, residents will be pleased," said Philpott.

The budget is the 21st consecutive balanced budget for the city. By law, the city must balance its budget.