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Joint Statement from Mayor Peter Kelly and HRM CAO Dan English

(Wednesday, April 13, 2010) - Halifax Regional Municipality is facing a significant funding gap as staff prepares to table the 2010/11 budget. This gap, in the order of $30 million, will require HRM to pursue all possible means of saving money.

While funding gaps are not new to municipalities of our size, there is a difference this year as assessments are essentially flat. This is due to the assessment cap, which now applies to 78 per cent of homes in HRM, as well as to the lingering effects of the worldwide recession.

As we strive to meet demands for expanded municipal services, address aging infrastructure, and contend with the rising costs of commodities, we are keenly aware that we cannot find more money through increased property values and assessments on new properties.

Therefore, we are left with difficult choices between cuts to services, identifying sources for higher revenues, tax increases, or a combination of all of these options.

This is indeed a problem, but not an insurmountable one in a municipal operating budget that exceeded $570 million last year and will again this year.

Both Council and staff are committed to finding a way through our current fiscal challenges, and striking the delicate balance between respecting the finite means of residents to pay more, protecting municipal services, and meeting our commitment to the dedicated individuals who make up our public service. In municipal government our people are our strength - they protect our neighbourhoods, provide valuable programs, build our infrastructure and deliver front-line services to citizens.

Council will listen to the well-considered input from staff, including the many suggestions that both of us received from all quarters of this organization. Ultimately, Council will make its final decisions based on what is in the collective best interest of the residents we serve.

While these discussions between staff and Council, and around the Council table, do not promise to be easy, we firmly believe they will produce a solid budget for the year ahead.

Important - albeit difficult - decisions are already being made. Council this evening approved staff’s recommendation to not open Visitor Information Centres in the urban areas and in Sackville, and to work with Destination Halifax toward the operation of the rural Visitor Information Centres, perhaps in partnership with Regional Tourism Industry Associations.

Council also voted in favour of expanding burial services in municipal cemeteries along with including additional columbarium services. This service enhancement will move municipal cemetery operations from a $400,000 annual cost to a source of revenue estimated at $55,000 to $100,000 per year.

Halifax Regional Municipality has a strong history of sound financial management. Council and staff will continue to build on that tradition and continue to work together to ensure we remain prudent keepers of the public purse.

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Mayor Peter Kelly

Dan English, CAO




Above content last modified Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 8:49am.