Amherst introduces $15.6-million budget
AMHERST - It's going to cost more to own property in Amherst after the town raised both residential and commercial tax rates to fund its strategic priorities and support the Cumberland YMCA.
Residential tax rates will rise by two cents to $1.67 per $100 of assessment while commercial taxes, impacted by the continued phase out of the business occupancy tax, are going up 23 cents to $4.31 per $100 assessment.
"There is no doubt that the cheque that our taxpayers will write is increasing. The fact of the matter is that our costs are increasing and we must cover those costs to continue to provide the municipal services that our taxpayers have come to expect," Mayor Robert Small said in delivering the town's $15.6-million operational budget.
For the owner of a home assessed at $100,000 with average water consumption will see an increase of $111.38 in their tax bill, or five per cent.
The town also introduced at $13.5-million capital budget that includes construction of the new sewage treatment plant and the paving of several streets, including East Pleasant from Christie Street to Central Avenue.
The mayor said the town is moving forward with its strategic priorities and is projecting to spend $325,000 on those issues this year. Roughly half of that, or $150,000, is being funded by an increase in the deed transfer tax from .5 to 1.25 per cent. It is also dedicating one cent on the tax rate while taking $91,156 from reserves and $40,000 from other sources.
The other cent is dedicated for the community pool reserve announced earlier this year to support the Cumberland YMCA.
"All of this very positive activity does come with a price tag," he said.
Town CAO Greg Herrett said there were a number of factors in setting the budget. While residential assessment grew by 10 per cent, the assessment cap program restricted the use of that increase for taxation with almost 75 per cent of residential properties capped. Even with the cap, and the loss of $517,674 in potential tax revenue, assessment still grew by 5.1 per cent.
Overall, Herrett told council that expenditures are projected to rise by 8.5 per cent with wages up $160,000, or 3.2 per cent, and administrative costs up 1.9 per cent, or $15,000. Building and facility costs are up as are vehicle and equipment costs and materials and supplies.
As well, additional debt service costs related to the Amherst Stadium and South Albion Street projects are up about 4.6 per cent.
Other budget highlights include a $10 increase in the solid waste uniform charge to $165 to be put into reserves for the eventual replacement of green bins while sewer rates are going up five per cent to 75 cents per cubic metre for residential properties and 37 cents per cubic metre for commercial properties.
The uniform charge for the sewage treatment plant is increasing from $23 to $28 per property.
To help ease the blow on the low income property owners, the town increasing the low income tax reduction from $200 to $225 for those with household incomes below $15,672.