Marystown council is taking another “hold-the-line” approach to its finances for 2019, according to Mayor Sam Synard.
Council called a special meeting on Monday, Dec. 17 to adopt its budget for the upcoming year.
Revenues and expenditures for the year are balanced at $7,794,059, up $446,159 from 2018, with no changes to taxes or fees for the second year in a row.
The residential and commercial property rates remain at seven mils and eight mils, respectively, while the water tax is $30 per month and sewer tax is $15 per month. The minimum property tax and the poll tax will both stay at $350.
“For our population, a $7.8 million budget seems to be reasonable,” Synard told The Southern Gazette on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Synard said he realizes property taxes, and taxes in general, for the town are no longer low, but remain about the same as those for towns similar in size or larger.
“We have a real strong appetite to never raise taxes in the term of this council. That’s what I would like to do as mayor,” Synard said.
“So we’re going to have to live within our means, and we’re going to have to spend within our means, and we’re going to have to borrow within our means to keep the town operating, but yet to not incur any greater debt proportionally to our debt ratio.”
That debt ratio is at 13 per cent, well below the percentage the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment deems acceptable, he said.
“We’ve done a lot of work in the last number of years, but that work is well under control, and financially, a (13) per cent debt-service ratio is really good for any municipality in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Synard said.
The mayor said the town will purchase some new equipment for public works in 2019, including a new truck and backhoe. The $1.1-million infrastructure project on Wilson Street and Forest Road will finish up in the spring with about $500,000 left to do, he said. The town will spend nearly $500,000 to upgrade the fire hall in 2019, as well.
A project to beautify the McGettigan Boulevard area will also be undertaken, Synard said.
“We’re looking at a concept now of installing sidewalks on McGettigan Boulevard, old-fashioned English streetlights, some benches, to really make it the centre of town as you come down the Burin Peninsula Highway,” he said.
Council has also applied for a new round of capital works funding from the provincial government, supported by the federal government, to the tune of between $9-10 million, Synard said, mainly road work and water and sewer projects.
For older residents, the town will also continue to offer a $100 per household property tax credit for seniors 65 years of age and older that was re-introduced in for 2018.
“A lot of seniors do apply for that and they’re successful in qualifying for it,” Synard said.
Expenditure highlights for 2019
Council (Remuneration and travel) – $84,780
General administration (Salaries, benefits, supplies, insurance, etc.) – $1,041,350
Property assessment services – $85,000
Common services (Engineering, general maintenance, public relations and general maintenance) – $98,100
Protective services – $339,671.57
Transportation services – $1,245,754.63
* Vehicle and fleet maintenance – $299,862
* Streets, roads, sidewalks, etc. – $444,471
* Snow removal – $282,566.96
* Street lighting – $149,600
* Traffic services – $9,500
* Other transportation services – $59,754.67
Environmental health – $1,414,855.46
* Water supply $753,535.50
* Sewage collection/disposal – $385,565.29
* Garbage and waste collection/disposal – $396,000
*Other environmental health services – $59,754.67
Planning and development – $144,023.15
Recreation and cultural services – $1,291,891.10
* Recreation administration – $258,889.76
* Recreation facilities – stadium, $299,241; recreation and community centres, $711,660.34
* Recreation and cultural programs, activities, etc. – $22,100
Fiscal services – $2,048,632.27
* Debt charges from all sources – $930,679.36
* Transfers to authorized reserves and other funds – $1,079,452.91
* Bank charges and other fiscal services – $38,500
Revenue highlights for 2019
Property taxes – $3,295,528
* Residential – $2,548,924
* Commercial/non-residential – $744,754
* Vacant land – $1,850
Residential water and sewer tax – $1,279,800
Commercial/non-residential water and sewage – $243,660.20
Poll tax – $72,100
Business tax – $781,577
Utility tax – $270,000
Sales of goods and services – $266,600
Other revenue from own sources – $534,500
Government transfers – $626,663.68
Operating surplus of prior year – $423,630