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City council approves 2013 budget

Seeing no need for further debate or discussion, council has passed the 2013 budget, which includes a 7.1 per cent increase to water rates. Councillors remained silent as they ratified the multi-million dollar budget at Monday night’s meeting.
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Aldo Ruberto attends a city council meeting on March 4, 2013. (Jeff Labine, tbnewswatch.com)

Seeing no need for further debate or discussion, council has passed the 2013 budget, which includes a 7.1 per cent increase to water rates.

Councillors remained silent as they ratified the multi-million dollar budget at Monday night’s meeting. The majority of council voted in favour of approving the more than 400-page budget in principle last month.

The gross total for the budget came in at $418.1 million, which was made up of $356.3 million for tax supported operations and $61.8 million for rate supported.

The budget saw a 7.1 per cent increase in water rates but wastewater charges will remain unchanged at 75 per cent of the total water fixed cost.

At-Large Coun. Rebecca Johnson voiced her opposition to the budget.

She said she was disappointed that the city was adding 28.6 jobs.

The budget also included a 2.6 per cent increase to the tax levy and 3.5 per cent increase to property taxes, which means homeowners will be paying $90 more on the average household.

Johnson called the 2.6 per cent excessive and would have preferred a lower increase.

The long-time councillor said she’s never seen a budget ratification before where there wasn’t any debate or discussion.

“We had a lot of information provided to us through memos on various matters and various issues but no one brought those forward,” she said. “There were no additions to the budget. That’s what I was really trying to accomplish throughout the whole budget process. I knew there would not be an opportunity to really get in to any other way of cutting the budget.”

The budget reflected the changes made to property assessments by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation resulting in variety changes to property taxes.

Property taxes will go up by 3.51 per cent or $89 increase for the year for residents with property assessed at $138,502. Residents whose property hasn’t change will pay less than while assessments that have increased will pay more.

The budget also included a 2.6 per cent increase to the tax levy or $4 million over 2012 and 3.5 per cent increase to property taxes, which means homeowners will be paying $90 more on the average household.

Mayor Keith Hobbs worked out his property taxes and estimated that he would have to cut out about six medium coffees per month. He said more than 2,000 residents will have a tax decrease because of the reassessment but 5,000 will face an increase of zero to $50.

Hobbs said he was pleased with the budget but admitted he was a bit worried that more items would be added.

“We’re putting $3.1 million out of the $4 million increase into roads and infrastructure,” Hobbs said. “That’s what the citizens have told us they want. They want their city fixed up and we’re doing that. I think everyone was in the same opinion that we don’t need to increase taxes anymore.”