Sackville Treasurer outlines budget priorities in a time of uncertainty

Sackville Treasurer Michael Beal

Sackville Treasurer Michael Beal is recommending three main priorities for next year’s municipal budget:

(1) Maintaining the same level of town services for residents.

(2) Continuing to pay down municipal debt while  pushing ahead with projects such as Phase III of the Lorne Street flood control project and buying a new fire truck.[efn_note] Beal says that the town could pay for most, if not all, of its $2 million share of the Lorne St. project and the $800,000 cost of the fire truck without having to borrow.[/efn_note]

(3) Pursuing environmental initiatives such as supporting the climate change co-ordinator and acquiring more electric and hybrid vehicles.[efn_note]The climate change co-ordinator’s position is funded through a grant from the provincial government’s Environmental Trust Fund.[/efn_note]

“I hate to say, but I’m still kind of a little blind,” Beal told council last night referring to the uncertainties brought on by Sackville’s forced amalgamation with the village of Dorchester and three surrounding local service districts (LSDs).

“We’re told [by the province] that it’s going to be essentially five different (tax) rates,” Beal explained.

“We’re also told that the local service districts, being Sackville and Dorchester LSD rates, will not go up significantly in 2023. So, if they’re not going up significantly, there’s no additional revenue, but [if] there is additional expenses, I’m kind of still going back and forth trying to fathom it,” Beal said.

Councillor Bill Evans said residents in the LSDs should pay more tax for the services they’re getting.

“We’re not allowed to raise taxes, so I don’t see us getting anything,” Evans added.

“We will have to provide services that we’re already providing for them — recreation comes to mind — but there’s no extra revenue there because they’re not being taxed,” he said, suggesting that this is a problem the new municipality will face in coming years.

Councillor Sabine Dietz repeated her warning that after amalgamation, Sackville residents will be required to pay for increased services from the Southeast Regional Service Commission and that could reduce the amount of money available for local priorities.

The province has given Sackville until June 10th to submit its budget priorities for next year to Chad Peters, the Moncton marketing man hired to facilitate the amalgamation of the five local entities, including Sackville, into the new Town of Tantramar.

It appears provincial bureaucrats, assisted by Peters, will draft next year’s budget before it’s approved by the new Tantramar council to be elected in November.

“The new council’s going to approve the budget, so we’re not entirely sure what the role of this council will even be with the 2023 budget,” said CAO Jamie Burke.

“Even that part is up in the air,” he added. “Talk about a weird process.”

Other priorities

Deputy Mayor Andrew Black

Sackville councillors are expected to vote on a formal motion at their meeting next Tuesday setting out their budget priorities for the provincial facilitator.

Deputy Mayor Andrew Black said the motion could also include the town’s need for a personnel or human-resources (HR) manager.

“I think that would be nice to have in the budget,” he said. “It would certainly help with a lot of employee relations issues within the town of Sackville.”

Black also mentioned what he sees as the need to devote more resources to drafting strategies for affordable housing, diversity and inclusion as well as an invasive species policy.

“I think we need to make the climate change coordinator position part of our operating budget,” Councillor Evans said.

“I think the need is there, the usefulness is there [and] that should be something we should try to do,” he added.

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5 Responses to Sackville Treasurer outlines budget priorities in a time of uncertainty

  1. Christian Corbet says:

    Anyone else sense this is a lot of people making ill suggestions and decisions based on little proven past successes. We need new advanced leadership.

  2. Geoff Martin says:

    As usual Bruce, thanks for your coverage. The situation is alarming and even worse than the Sackville Council realizes. It is alarming that the consultant Mr. Peters won’t raise the LSD tax rate for 2023. This is because it is well known in Fredericton that the provincial government has been subsidizing LSD municipal services for decades (expenses > tax revenues). The situation is worse than the Council realizes because bills will come in for RCMP policing (and possibly other services) in the former LSDs and they will exceed the revenues. So in 2023 one way or the other (deficit, tax increases, or service cuts) the Sackville and Dorchester ‘neighborhoods’ within Tantramar will subsidize the former LSDs, having taken this role over from the provincial government. This is in addition to Tantramar start-up costs, like signage and graphics, for which there seems to be no grant program. The 2024 budget process will be nasty because the new Council will need to raise taxes in the former LSD areas, with Chad Peters and the Higgs government having skipped town.

  3. Kata List Productions says:

    There was a time and it was not that long ago that the Southeast Regional Commission was just an idea in someone’s note book…. so do you really want to find revenue? Get rid of this white elephant. Easy. Defund bureaucrats that do not actually contribute to the local prosperity but only drain it. Garbage removal is not rocket science and land use planning is already something covered by our Town very capable and well paid employees… so why so much extra staff spread all over the place and paid work [using that term loosely] that are living off the fat of the budget? Trim the fat, support local business development and new economic enterprisers; shrink the BIG govt. I remember when Bruce Phinney said he didn’t think we needed this SRC.. he was right but everyone else just sat their with blank looks on their faces… entertaining stuff.

  4. Geoff Martin says:

    Oh, another question. Has Chad Peters said that the tax rate in Dorchester and Sackville will also not increase significantly for 2023?

  5. will says:

    When our properties went up in price due to govt induced inflation (money printing and borrowing, totally foreseeable btw) ie $6K per year which is insane based on an unserviced area (no town water/sewer etc)… the town received more revenue. Instead of cutting our taxes and focusing on the basics (you know pot holes etc) they were happy to get more money to spend. Let’s ship an artistic weather vane to sackville and burn lots of fossil fuels to get it here. I’d remove item 3) ie. anything to do with climate change. I don’t want to get into the possible corruption with the various local environmental groups and consultants… The town was built in a flood plain. And the town was more than happy to let a plastic manufacturing plant set up shop (petroleum based btw – i thought we were against oil and plastics especially near the town reservoir). My area is unserviced and yet I’ve been lumped into Ward 3 which is the main Sackville ward.

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