Lantzville council is expected to adopt a budget with a 7.6-per cent tax increase for next year.
District of Lantzville councillors, at a meeting Monday, passed first, second and third readings of a 2021-25 financial plan bylaw. During budget meetings this month, council and staff found ways to reduce a tax increase that had been projected at 24.2 per cent at the start of the process. Some of those savings came from reducing a recommended increased contribution to the roads reserve fund by $150,000 – an Aulds Road project will be deferred to 2024-25 and a Philip Road project will be deferred until at least 2026.
Director of financial services Jamie Slater, in her report to council, said that a 7.6-per cent tax increase will amount to an $81 tax increase for an average $724,500 single-family home in Lantzville.
“I’m hoping that in the near future we’ll see more houses getting built so that that will contribute to our tax base,” said Mayor Mark Swain.
Coun. Ian Savage said he appreciated council’s good work in finding ways to limit the tax increase, but said he couldn’t support “the principle of all these cost increases due to staffing,” mentioning a new position in the finance department and contract work for communications consulting.
“As we’ve seen, new development like Clark-Medd produces very little net tax increase, nowhere near enough to cover the vast tax increases of staffing, so the burden will fall to current taxpayers,” Savage said.
He said the provincial funding for COVID-19 recovery should be used for municipalities “trying to meet essential obligations” and called PR/communications spending “frivolous.” He presented calculations of compounded property tax increases due to staffing increases during the current council’s term.
“I daresay residents would find my analysis instructive and illuminating, so while a PR person may publish facts, they will be giving only limited, select facts, likely which put decisions in their best light,” Savage said.
Council passed first, second and third readings of the financial plan bylaw by a 3-1 vote with Savage opposed and Coun. Karen Proctor absent. The financial plan bylaw will be on council’s agenda for potential adoption Dec. 7.