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Tax rates yet to be set as Kings County council defers operating budget approval

Kings County council.
Kings County council.

KENTVILLE, NS - Taxpayers in the County of Kings will have to wait a little longer to find out what their tax rates will be for the coming year.

Kings County council had a special meeting on April 18 to approve the operating and capital budgets for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Council approved the capital budget totalling $4,292,000 but not the proposed operating budget.

Coun. Jim Winsor made a motion to defer approval until council’s committee of the whole has completed its deliberations with the date of the meeting to be determined. The motion carried.

Winsor said a committee of the whole session for budget deliberations was held April 13 but the afternoon was used discussing components of the capital budget. Discussions during time set aside prior to the special meeting on April 18 “touched one of several issues.”

Mayor Peter Muttart said there seems to be a “surplus” of requests this year from organizations in the municipality seeking grant funding. Each one is worthy but council can’t agree to fund them all without increasing tax rates or finding the money somewhere else.

Muttart said council has already “squeezed” staff to come up with some additional funds to accomplish projects on the municipality’s plate. Council must sort out its priorities in terms of the funding requests. It’s possible that the municipality won’t be able to fully comply with all asks or that some requests will have to be deferred to another time.

Muttart said there has been a great deal of council discussion surrounding several of the funding requests.

“There is some opinion around the table that some of them haven’t received as much discussion as is warranted and that perhaps some of the asks have been misinterpreted or the people have not been asked to expand upon what it is they intend to do if they were funded,” Muttart said.

For these reasons, a majority of councillors felt that additional time is needed to re-examine and discuss the funding requests. Muttart said he thinks this is a good sign for organizations requesting municipal grants because there will be more informed council discussion before final decisions are made.

Muttart said he’s proud of council for deciding to take more time for deliberations. He said this would mean more work for staff but, at the end of the day, this will be beneficial to the community and that’s “what we’re here for.”

The date for the continuation of council’s operating budget deliberations in a committee of the whole session has yet to be announced. Muttart said they’re working to identify the most appropriate date taking busy schedules into consideration. He said council must be afforded sufficient time.

The operating budget as proposed in a staff report dated March 20 was balanced at $45,753,100. The proposed residential and resource tax rate was $0.853 per $100 of assessed property value while the proposed commercial rate was $2.287 per $100 of assessed value.

Kings County council has approved…

-       The capital budget totalling $4,292,000 together with the project justification sheets amended to $3,892,000by changes to the sewer collection line replacement program.

-       A motion adjusting the proposed capital budget to fund the Waterville sewer line project using $300,000 from Sewer Capital Reserves; deferring the Hants Border sewer line project to 2018-2019 and setting aside $580,000 in the Gas Tax Reserve for future disposition by council.

-       The municipality’s five-year capital plan.

-       A temporary borrowing resolution in the amount of $550,000.

-       A motion for the mayor to draft a letter to municipal partners requesting compliance with Public Sector Accounting Standards 3255.

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