This is the heart of BUDGET SEASON. On Wednesday, February 19th from 3:00 to 8:00 PM, Wolfville staff and councillors will set up at Town Hall to listen to residents, and provide information about the upcoming 2020-21 budget. Version 2 of the draft budget was discussed at the February 4th Committee of the Whole (COW). You can find that draft budget and listen to the audio of the Council discussion by going to the Committee of the Whole agenda section on the Town’s website. That discussion will inform version 3 (based on the discussions from February 4th) that will, in turn, contribute to discussion on the 19th.
Some points of interest from version 2:
- Revenue requirements are projected to be approximately $11M. These revenues are projected to come from approximately $6.3M from residential taxes, $1.4M from Commercial taxes and $1.8M from grants in lieu of taxes, and $1.5 (approximate) in fee for service, water and sewer charges, and grants from other levels of government.
- In that approximately $11M revenue requirement is $1.85M to “partners” – education, library, corrections, housing, waste management, transit, Valley Fibre, and other smaller regional partner contributions.
- Council has directed staff to keep any increase in expenditures (and therefore revenue requirements) to less than, or certainly no more than, the annual Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) of 2.2%.
- Some of this increased revenue would be achieved by a small movement (this happens annually) of CAPPED assessment. Council is also looking at increasing the residential tax rate by .5 to 1 cent or from its current $1.465/$100 of assessment.
PLEASE NOTE: this is a draft budget. If Council follows its traditional path the final budget draft will be reviewed at the March COW – Tuesday, March 3rd, at 8:30 AM in the Council Chambers. Final approval would happen at the March meeting of Council on Tuesday, March 17th, beginning at 6:30 PM.
Between now and then residents and commercial property owners have opportunities to weigh in. No one likes to pay taxes and as I have mentioned in earlier posts from time to time constituents do comment that their taxes are higher than they wish to pay. Some of that is really out of a local council’s hands e.g., the problems with the CAP, the realities of our size, the requirements downloaded to the municipal tax base from the Province. However, we do control the largest part of the property taxes you pay. Your input to the level of services e.g., road maintenance and redevelopment, fire and police protection, flood mitigation, parks and trail management, recreation programs, water and sewer management, community planning, emergency management, visitor attraction, communications, maintenance of responsive and qualified staff, are areas for which the Town controls the levels of service. For me, and I expect all Members of Council, I want to know which services or initiatives you would cut to eliminate any required increase – or to reduce the 2019/20 tax rate? Of course, we also want to know if you are pleased with the current levels of service or feel that any should be increased. For members of council – and for staff – we know that we must achieve a balance – not every resident or commercial business will have the same needs but we do want to provide the right levels of service to serve all residents, businesses and visitors to our lovely Town well.
Check the Town’s website http://www.wolfville.ca for budget information. Join us in the Town Hall (this is a drop-in event) the late afternoon and early evening of February 19th. Call or email any or all of the Town’s Members of Council. Council can make its best decisions when we have a clear sense of community needs and expectations.
I hope to hear from you and perhaps see you on the 19th.