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Kings County council approves ‘challenging’ budget, holds line on tax rates

Kings County council.
Kings County council.

KINGS COUNTY, NS - Kings County council took longer than anticipated to scrutinize the proposed operating budget for the coming fiscal year but the document has been approved, along with tax rates that remain unchanged.

Council held 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 operating budget.

Coun. Jim Winsor made a motion to defer approval until council’s committee of the whole had completed its deliberations. Specifically, this was to more thoroughly debate several grant funding applications.

Council went on to approve the operating budget, balanced at $45,753,100, at a special meeting on May 25. The residential and resource tax rate was set at $0.853 per $100 of assessed property value while the commercial rate was set at $2.287 per $100 of assessed value. These are the same as last year’s rates.

Mayor Peter Muttart said it was a challenging budget year. Staff and council did its best to free up money for discretionary capital projects that would be “more helpful than spending it all on sewer in one year.”

“We did approve perhaps a lot of projects that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford to approve if we hadn’t taken that track,” Muttart said.

He said holding the line on the tax rates meant deferring some gas tax funds that would have otherwise gone into the sewer capital reserve. He said there is a “huge deficiency” in the reserve but they decided that not enough attention has been paid to some “worthy grants.”

Muttart said the municipality has to do a complete review of the budget process and the method by which they approve grants to organizations. Council didn’t have time to do the kind of review that it would have liked to before reaching the deadline of having to pass a budget.

“The kind of review that we want to do would take months so we just couldn’t delay it that long but we were able to make some decisions that would free up a bit of cash to enable us to do a few good things in our communities,” Muttart said.

He said there would also be a review of the order in which J-class subdivision roads are being resurfaced through a provincial-municipal cost-sharing program.

Muttart said council is anxious to establish a plan and move forward so the municipality can be more efficient with its expenditures. He said the reviews would be completed in time for next year’s budget process.

kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

Did you know?

Several grants to organizations were approved as part of the 2017-2018 County of Kings operating budget…

- Valley Sport and Multi Purpose Facility, $15,000

- Kings Volunteer Resource Centre, $9,000

- Kings County Senior Safety, $23,000

- Free Spirit Riding Association, $30,000

- Kings County SPCA, $15,000

- Western Kings Arena (Credit Union Centre), $10,000

- Glooscap and District Arena, $10,000

- Kings Mutual Century Centre, $10,000

- Kentville Skate Park, $50,000

- Recreation Needs Assessment, $15,000

- Valley Search and Rescue Capital Grant, $100,000

- Sunken Lake Scout Camp, $10,000

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