Sackville Town Council approved a budget last night that will impose substantial increases in water and sewer rates over the next five years.
The largest single group of water users will see their bills increase by $36.40 every year until 2021. That means that yearly water bills for this group will rise from the current $288 to $470 by 2021, a total increase of more than 63 per cent.
Other groups of water users will also pay substantially more.
In his remarks to council, Mayor Higham said the money is needed to pay for utility improvements, especially the millions of dollars in sewage lagoon upgrades over the next couple of years that are required to meet new regulatory standards.
The mayor added that the town wants to avoid going into debt to pay for utility upgrades.
“Everybody will be affected by it, absolutely,” he said, “but it will be most limited for those who use the least amount of water and it is a gradual step-up over a five year time frame.”
Water use lower in Sackville
The mayor explained that ironically, the pricing of metered water in Sackville has encouraged conservation and as people use less, the town has been struggling to pay its utility costs.
“The rate of use nationally for an individual is basically the rate of use for families in this town,” Higham said adding that while water conservation is a good thing, it has meant a decline in the revenues needed to maintain utility structures.
He said council decided to raise water and sewer rates after research showed that Sackville has lower rates than many other municipalities in the province.
Slight rise in property taxes
The 2017 town budget maintains the residential property tax rate at the current $1.55 per $100 of assessed property value, but since provincial assessments are rising, there will be a slight rise in residential and commercial property taxes. (Commercial rates are set at one-and-a half times the residential rate.)
Treasurer Michael Beal estimates that the average residential property assessment will rise next year by one to one-and-a-half per cent.
Other budget highlights
- Total budget for 2017 is $10,833,386, an increase of $234,962 or 2.2% over 2016.
- The budget is projected to be balanced with revenues covering expenses.
- Property tax assessment has increased 2.97% resulting in additional revenue of $281,034.
- Increase in estimated RCMP policing costs of $36,708 in 2017 brings the total RCMP officers billing budget to $1,454,288.
To read Sackville’s 2017 detailed budget documents on the town’s website click here.