Hantsport council facing tough budget season

Ashley Thompson
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Hantsport’s town council will be looking at every line item in the town’s budget in an attempt to recover more than $200,000 in lost tax revenue this year.

CAO Rob Frost brought council up to speed on the town’s financial situation at their monthly meeting Jan. 8.

“We are going to have a reduction of $242,000 in tax revenue in 2013/14,” he said, noting that the commercial tax assessment dropped from $27 million to $16 million.

Frost says the loss brings the total budget down to $2.2 million, and about $1.1 million of the budget is used for fixed costs council has little control over.

“So your fixed expenses are about half of what your budget is,” Deputy Mayor Harold Bulger offered.

Frost informed council that fees for RCMP, debt repayment, education and property assessment services are included in the fixed costs. Salaries for town employees, he added, tie up an additional $600,000.

“It doesn’t leave a lot left at the end of the day to cut $240,000 out of,” the CAO said.

“To be honest, this is going to be a very tough budget and that’s an understatement… we have to look at everything. Absolutely everything.”

Several councillors asked if there are partnering arrangements that can be made with neighbouring municipalities to reduce policing costs. Further discussion will resume on the matter once background information is gathered.

Frost suggested council meet next month for preliminary budget discussions.

Bulger requested budget updates on a quarterly, rather than annual, basis moving into the future.

“By the looks of this we’re going to have to look at not only the services we provide, but the way that we provide the services as well,” he said. 

Organizations: Hantsport council, RCMP

Geographic location: Hantsport, Hantsport, N.S.

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