AMHERST - Residents throughout the county will see their tax rates increase for the first time in about three years.
Cumberland County council approved its $15-million budget for 2009-10 on Wednesday, which will see a three-cent increase on residential taxes per $100 of assessed value. Commercial tax rates are increasing by 17 cents.
Warden Keith Hunter said the tax rate increase on residential properties was mainly because of the cap.
"Over the last two years, we've lost almost $1.4 million on revenues and that had to be made up," Hunter said following the approval of the budget.
"It was either (increase the residential tax rates) or start cutting services. We're here to provide services, we're a service-oriented organization and we didn't want to cut them so we did have to raise taxes a bit."
Along with the three-cent increase, the council approved a Sept. 1 implementation date of a deed transfer tax at a rate of 1.5 per cent of the value of the property transferred.
Andrew MacDonald, the county's finance officer, said the deed transfer tax will give an expected revenue of about $350,000 now, with possibly a yearly revenue of around $600,000.
With the commercial tax rate increase, 14 cents was to offset the business occupancy tax being phased out.
Cumberland County's total operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year came in at $15,074,180, which was down from $15,189,275 from the 2008-09 budget. The capital budget was approved at $3,108,972, up from $1,862,000 from the year before. A little more than $1.5 million of that is for the construction of the Pugwash Fire Hall, and another $1 million is for the Maccan Waste Water Treatment Plant.
No major projects were cut from this year's budget, and MacDonald said the council this year identified about five or six million dollars in fire capital projects, such as halls and vehicles, that will be addressed in the next four to five years.
"It's just the timing of that, but hopefully with the tax rates as they are and with the deed transfer tax, we should be able to address our future capital on an annual basis," MacDonald said.
Along with the tax rate increases, residential and resource assessments increased by seven per cent, and the commercial by three. Business occupancy assessment decreased by 49 per cent.
• Based on the rate of $1.04, the residential tax levy will be $8.6 million, the commercial tax levy will be $3.18 million, total amount raised by property taxes - $11,811,234 for a total of 78 per cent of total budget.
• Sewer rates increased by $18,167 over last year; Oxford School enhancement commitment of $289,500.
• General government: grants to organizations increased by $182,500 (including $100,000 for YMCA); capital improvements to E.D. Fullerton Building: $107,000.
fire services: contracts with towns increased by $8,810; operational funding to rural departments including equipment purchases increased by $280,000; new pumper purchase at $244,000; facilities construction: additional $400,000 for Pugwash; solid waste: tipping fees increased by $43,000.
• Long-term debt as of April 1: $1,092,231 ($1,222,283 last year).