Treasurer says Sackville might have to raise taxes to pay for flood control project, but only in ‘worst-case scenario’

Treasurer Michael Beal

Sackville Treasurer Michael Beal told council on Monday night that while a tax increase might be needed to finance the Phase III completion of the Lorne Street flood control project, it would only be required as part of what he called “a worst-case scenario.”

Beal was speaking shortly before a majority of councillors voted to seek more money from the federal and provincial governments for Phase III. The town estimates it would cost $4.6 million with 40% of that money ($1.84 million) coming from the federal government.

The treasurer said that under his worst-case scenario, Sackville’s share would be 33% or $1.52 million, but if the province agreed to pay 33%, the town would need to contribute only $1.24 million. Beal’s worst-case scenario also includes borrowing money at 5% interest even though the town’s last financing cost less than 2.5%.

“I don’t want to say at this point in time that we could do this with a potential of no tax increase,” he said. “What my projections show is that in a worst-case scenario, it’s 33% municipal funding, 5% borrowing and our tax base stays relatively neutral, we could have to look at a one to one-and-a-half cent tax rate increase.”

(Last year, when the town raised taxes by one cent to $1.56 per $100 of assessment, it meant that a homeowner whose property was assessed at $100,000 paid $10 more per year in taxes.)

Beal said, however, that many factors are at play that could eliminate the need for a tax increase — factors that include the town’s share of the costs falling to 27%, borrowing costs under 5%, continued growth in the town’s tax base, lower than estimated Phase III construction costs and the use of money from the capital reserve fund that is left over from Phase II.

“If all goes well and [these] factors come into play, then again, we would not have to increase any tax rate,” Beal said.

Holding ponds, but no new aboiteau

Town Engineer Dwayne Acton

The Phase III project would include a 20,000 cubic metre (cm) storm water retention pond in the old Pickard Quarry as well as a 40,000 cm pond behind the community gardens on Charles Street along with ditches and piping to carry storm water through the industrial park to a provincially owned aboiteau on the Tantramar River near the town’s main sewage lagoons.

Town Engineer Dwayne Acton told council that the addition of the two new retention ponds would add to the 40,000 cm pond now under construction as part of Phase II giving the town the 100,000 cm capacity it needs to handle a one-in-one-hundred year storm.

Phase III does not include plans for a bigger aboiteau to discharge water into the river because all aboiteaux in the area are owned by the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI).

“We feel that DTI need to step up to the plate and upgrade their infrastructure to be able to handle the flow and the water that we [would] be sending towards a potentially new aboiteau,” Acton said.

He added that even if DTI didn’t come through with a new aboiteau, the retention pond in the quarry, the two larger ones east of Lorne Street and a series of deep ditches would be able to handle the water from major storms.

Although a majority of councillors voted in favour of seeking the federal and provincial money under the Investing in Canada infrastructure program, Sackville will be competing with other New Brunswick municipalities for the $5 million that the province has allocated as its share of the program.

For a timeline on how the Lorne Street flood control project has evolved since 2016, click here.

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5 Responses to Treasurer says Sackville might have to raise taxes to pay for flood control project, but only in ‘worst-case scenario’

  1. Percy Best says:

    Until our NB Department of Transportation and Infrastructure confirms that they are indeed putting a new aboiteau out in back of Russel Metals then this whole plan is absolutely ludicrous. The aboiteau that is there now (AB-01) is a tiny wooden timber structure that measures 18″ x 18″ inside (45cm x 45cm) and has an old style internal flapper that additionally restricts flow. Of course this aboiteau is closed approximately 5 hours, twice a day, while the tide is in. The bottom of this timber box is at 4.62 metres above mean sea level.

    The proposed bottom of the ditch that is included in the Lorne Street phase III project at this point is at an elevation of 2.172 metres above sea level. So the water will have to be 2.448 metres deep (over 8′) at this point before it could even get out this tiny aboiteau. Why on earth would the management of our Town ever think of undertaking such a questionable approach to this project without a absolute guarantee that DTI will replace AB-01 and drop it down the 8′ needed to line up with the proposed ditch elevation?

    Our current Mayor repeated talks about the need for a bridge structure in order to get the flood water under the railway tracks because he stated that one can never put enough pipes under the tracks to ever meet the needs of what he gives as a flow rate but yet they are headed for a eight foot higher than the ditch, 18″ square box pipe to get rid of all our potential flood waters.

    We definitely need someone competent to analyze what has been done to date and set us on a proper course to complete this project. We need someone who can work freely with the DTI engineers and perhaps have an overseeing of it as well. Perhaps Hilcon out of Fredericton, or Kevin Bekkers from the NS Department of Agriculture, would be interested in ‘bailing’ us out.

    • Kelly Alder says:

      Good info Percy. I won’t question it as you have done some research and that’s clear. Now let’s await Wrayton’s comments , as I’m sure there will be some to say your comments are unfounded.

      • Percy Best says:

        Thanks Kelly! — The figures I used are from the Lorne Street, Phase II, (first go-around), tender package, and from the Hilcon Report, which our Town’s Engineering Dept supplied the figures for.

    • Wrayton says:

      I agree, the old aboiteau need to be replaced.

      • Percy Best says:

        Yes Wrayton, but there is not a binding agreement with DTI to replace, lower and enlarge this aboiteau so this whole project leading out through the Industrial Park to that area in back of Russel Metals could possibly be totally futile.

        In conversation with DTI their choice would be to increase the size of AB-03 down by Carter’s Brook and take the water that way. Again, rough estimated cost was $50,000 to enlarge the drainage ditch and $450,000 to install a 6′ diameter concrete pipe and steel aboiteau which would allow the Town water to flow into Carter’s Brook.

        That would look after any possibility of Sackville flooding when taken in conjunction with what DTI, via Modern Construction, is currently doing with the Rte 935 causeway project.

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