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Halifax Regional Council Approves 2010/2011 Budget
(Tuesday, May 25, 2010)-- This afternoon, Halifax Regional Council passed the 2010/11 Operating and Capital/Project budgets for the Halifax Regional Municipality. The balanced budget includes a modest increase in the general and transit tax rates and a variety of reductions to address a multi-million dollar funding gap, while still allowing additional spending in areas such as transit and solid waste operations.
The approved budget includes $731 million for Operating ( a 4.9% increase over 2009/2010) and a gross Capital/Project Budget of $157 million (an 11% increase over 2009/2010).
“This is a fiscally responsible budget that balances our need to spend in key areas with the ability of taxpayers to shoulder additional costs,” said Mayor Peter Kelly. “While Council never wants to increase taxes, we did our best to minimize the impact to taxpayers while protecting the programs and services residents rely upon.”
The general rates of taxation on residential property will be set at:
• $0.7088 for the urban area
• $0.6918 for the suburban area
• $0.6850 for the rural area..
The general rates of taxation on commercial and business occupancy will be set at:
• $3.257 for the urban area
• $3.257 for the suburban area
• $2.899 for the rural area.
Tax rates associated with Transit Tax be set at:
• $0.051 for the Regional Transportation tax rate
• $0.105 for the Local Transit tax rate
Based upon the direction of Council during the Fiscal Framework process that preceded budget, staff proposed a combination of measures to address the funding gap within HRM. Council asked staff to find $14 million within current spending, apply $10 million to the transit rate to support transit growth, and attribute $6 million to the general tax rate, which would have resulted in a general tax rate increase of 1.7 per cent. When the funding gap rose to $35.5 million - because of the provincial increase in HST and additional funds required to support snow and ice removal - staff increased the list of combined savings, efficiencies and new revenues to $19.5 million.
The approved budget includes $22.5 million through efficiencies, service reductions, and added revenues; $8 million on the transit rate; and $3 million on the general rate resulting in an increase of just under one percent.
The weekly summer green cart service has been maintained.
Service reductions include suspension of contributions to the Community Facility Partnership Grants Program, deferral of spending on trails, reduction in funding to Public Art projects, and closing of Visitor Information Centres. Fee increases include Solid Waste Tipping Fees, fees for provision of tax information, streets and services permit fees, and fees for criminal record checks.
HRM’s inaugural Corporate Plan was also approved by Council this afternoon. The plan is the municipality’s main strategic planning tool, and aligns the programs and services HRM delivers with the needs of residents.
For more information on the budget please visit www.halifax/budget .
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Mayor Peter Kelly