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Cumberland County tax rate takes big jump

Allison Gillis stood and thanked council for electing him warden Wednesday afternoon.
Cumberland County Warden Allison Gillis. - File

Residential, commercial rate up 13 cents $100 assessment

UPPER NAPPAN – Residential and commercial property taxes are going up significantly in the Municipality of Cumberland.

The municipality set its 2018-19 budget during a special meeting on Wednesday that will see taxes increase by 13 cents per $100 of assessment.

“Council was faced with significant challenges in balancing its 2018-19 operations and capital budgets” Warden Al Gillis said.

The residential rate is going from $1.04 per $100 to $1.17 while the commercial rate is increasing to $2.76 per $100 from $2.63.

Springhill’s area rate is 86 cents per $100 and the commercial area rate is $2.18, while in Parrsboro the area rate is 46 cents per $100 for residential properties and $1.17 per $100 for commercial properties.

The village rate in Pugwash is 32 cents per $100 for residential properties and 39 cents for commercial (both up two cents) while in River Hebert the village rate is 10 cents per $100.

The warden said council faced a preliminary shortfall of $1.9 million in the operations budget and an additional shortfall of approximately $420,000 in capital projects.

“We did reduce programs and services by $615,000 to offset these shortfalls and when all the changes were factored in, we had to increase the residential and commercial tax rates by 13 cents,” said Gillis.

Based on the average 2018 residential assessment of $93,734, this change in tax rate represents an increase of $121 per year or $10 per month.

The municipality has approved its 2018-19 operations budget in the amount of $29.47 million and its capital budget in the amount of $9.99 million. Council’s approved five-year capital investment plan totals approximately $14.8 million.

This increase not only provides funding for programs and services, but it also allows the Municipality to undertake capital projects and helps to establish operations reserves.

“Most municipalities are facing significant fiscal challenges”, Gillis said. “We have annual increases in costs that exceed our revenues. We have underfunded reserve funds, our assessment increases are less than previous years, and we have to replace our infrastructure, as well as plan for new infrastructure,” said Gillis. “Now is the time to deal with these challenges.”

The warden also said these are ongoing challenges and would not rule out future tax rate increases.

“Two of our issues have been that we have not increased property tax rates for 10 years and we have used operating reserves to balance the budget in previous years rather than increase our property tax rates,” said Gillis.

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