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2005/2006 Proposed Budget to Focus on Community Projects
(Tuesday, February 22, 2005)-- Halifax Regional Municipality’s proposed 2005-2006 Budget will focus on transit and traffic improvements, enhanced public safety, new recreation and playground facilities and a host of community and neighbourhood projects.
The proposed $589 million Budget for 2005-2006 was tabled at a meeting of Halifax Regional Council this evening. Staff are proposing that there be no increase in the tax rate--- that it remain the same as it was for the 2004/2005 fiscal year.
Public safety will be enhanced with the hiring of 32 new Halifax Regional Police officers in the next two years; transit service will get another 34 buses and some new terminals; there will be more money for street/road improvements; design work and/or construction will begin on several new community/recreation centres; and there’s new money for neighbourhood parks and playgrounds.
George McLellan, Chief Administrative Officer, said the proposed Budget is aimed at delivering more tangible programs and services to residents in the coming year, particularly in the areas of policing, expanded transit and new traffic improvements, as well as new recreation/community facilities.
“For the past few years, we have been very consciously focussing our efforts on building a solid, manageable and predictable financial foundation and improving internal systems to make us more efficient and cost-effective, “ he said. “However, residents have been telling us they want to see more neighbourhood-type projects and improvements at the community level. Hopefully, that is what we are going to achieve over the next few years.”
Mr. McLellan said “We can’t wait for new sources of revenue from the federal and provincial governments. Our residents have told us they want to see more for their tax dollar and this proposed Budget is designed to meet those demands.”
The proposed Budget was developed in keeping with HRM’s Scorecard, which is the alignment of staff priorities with Council and citizen priorities. The deliveryof these priorities must be measurable in order to determine the level of program success and citizen satisfaction.
The HRM Scorecard let’s us know how we are doing. We are accountable to Council and to the residents of HRM, so we want to ensure that we are addressing the growing needs of the community; and at the same time, making sure we make the best use of every tax dollar, “ the CAO said.
Mr. McLellan said HRM has made considerable progress in recent years reducing its debt through the Multi-Year Financial Strategy, and is making significant strides towards a “pay as you go” strategy for Capital spending. The municipality’s debt will reduce to $281.4 million this year, compared to $347.5 million at its peak.
The public will have the opportunity to be briefed by HRM staff on the proposed Budget and have the opportunity to offer comment or suggestions at a series of Community Council meetings during the next few weeks. Council will begin Budget deliberations in late February or early March.
Paving, Materials Cost Factors (1996-2004)
Reconstruction costs pavement curb and sidewalk /km
Resurfacing 2" overlay Cost/ km
Resurfacing Mill 2" off and put 2" of asphalt back Cost/ km
Surface Sealing Micro Surfacing Cost/ km
Sidewalk & Curb Renewal cost / km
Proposed 2005/2006 HRM Budget Highlights
Transit, Transportation Improvements
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)-- new commuter service linking Sackville, Cole Harbour and Burnside areas to downtown core. Twenty (20) new buses to be purchased
New Transit Terminals-- Sackville, Cole Harbour and Windmill Road ( Burnside) as part of BRT. New terminal facilities on Barrington Street (Scotia Square.)
Expanded transit service-- Regular service expanded by six (6) new buses and one (1) access-a-bus, bringing total fleet size to 246 vehicles.
University Student Transit Pass Program-- Expand U-Pass service to include Dalhousie University students. Eight refurbished (8) buses dedicated to this service.
Harbour Ferry System- Funds allocated for property acquisitions, design work etc.
Transit Fare Box Replacements- New program leading to overall conversion of transit fare boxes from coin to Smart Cards.
Traffic Improvements-- For example, design, property acquisition etc. for widening of Lacewood Drive to the Fairview Overpass; converting Armdale Rotary to roundabout/Chebucto reversible lane.
Traffic Signals-- New traffic light systems (5) for more signalized intersections
Streets/Sidewalks-- Budget increased from $11 million to $15 million.
Pedestrian Overpass- connecting Highfield Park to Burnside
Recreation, Facilities Improvements
New Gymnasium- HRM contributing towards community gymnasium to be located in replacement high school for St. Patrick’s and Queen Elizabeth High Schools.(Special agreement with Province of Nova Scotia and Halifax Regional School Board.)
Regional Trails-- $800,000 for development of new trails throughout the municipality
Bikeways-- $120,000, primarily directed at establishing bike route along the Bedford Highway
All-Weather Sports Field-- Construction of new field in Eastern Region (Dartmouth)
Community/ Recreation Centres- Funds included for design work and/or construction starts on new recreation centres for Mainland Commons and District 2 (Fall River-Waverley)
Spring Garden Road Library- Reserve/Capital campaign
Parks, Playgrounds- $575,000 in new funding for new park areas and playgrounds. Community Councils will recommend priorities within their Districts.
Public Gardens- $600,000 for management plan, improvements.
Dartmouth Waterfront Park Upgrade- $98,000
Police Services- Thirty-two (32) new officers to be hired over the next two years. Traffic division to be re-activated with hiring of 20 new officers over two year program. Also, 12 new officers over two years for community response unit.
Police Training Facility-- New training facility to be established at former Northbrook School in Dartmouth. The Human Resources division and some investigative units will also be re-located there.
Rural Fire Departments- $388,000 for improvements to water supplies at various stations.
Fire Apparatus-- $3.6 million budgeted for purchase of new fire vehicles, apparatus.
Fire Stations-- Design work to begin on new fire station and recreation facility in Fall River-Waverley area, as well as new fire station near Penhorn in Dartmouth
Street scape Improvements- $1 million earmarked for street scape improvements to Herring Cove Road, Main Street (Dartmouth) and Sackville Drive. Funds also allocated for District Capital area street scape improvements.
Sidewalk snow removal-- Municipality to clear snow from all intersections, including those in the former City of Halifax.
Senior Citizens (sidewalk clearing)-- Funding increased for program to assist eligible seniors with snow and ice removal.
Youth- $500,000 for skateboard facilities, including new facility on Halifax Commons.
Restoration of Halifax Explosion Memorial-- Needham memorial bells .
Improved Lighting-- Sullivan’s Pond, Dartmouth.
Shubie Canal- Begin development of a Master Plan for this popular Dartmouth park.
ClimateSmart program- anti-idling program, greenhouse gas emission reduction, energy-efficient buildings, etc.
HRM tree planting program- $250,000 for tree planting at new locations and replacement trees lost as a result of Hurricane Juan
Chief Administrative Officer
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