After weathering the financial challenges of 2020, Colchester County Council successfully approved its 2021/22 budget last evening with no increases to the residential or commercial tax rates. This was the third year of the last four that the Municipality was able to hold the line on its rates, with just a half cent increase in 2019.
“We know this past year has been challenging financially for many of our residents and businesses. Although our Municipality continues to face rising costs that are beyond our control, such as education, policing, libraries, and corrections, Council was determined to do its best to avoid an increase in our tax rates. We are pleased to say that we were successful in achieving that,” said Christine Blair, Mayor of the Municipality of Colchester.
The Municipality prides itself on delivering a high level of service to residents while continuing to maintain one of the lowest municipal tax rates in the province. Long-term forecasting, investment in contingency reserve funds, and calculated spending have all contributed to the Municipality’s stable financial position.
In addition to careful spending, this year’s $32.9 Million budget continues to invest in critical infrastructure and economic development initiatives that will aid in post-pandemic recovery in the County including rural broadband internet, Debert Business Park and Airport, Fundy Discovery Site, and the Cliffs of Fundy UNESCO Global Geopark.
The Municipality is leading environmental change by investing in Carbon-Free Colchester initiatives, and numerous community organizations also will receive support through the County’s extensive not-for-profit grant programs.
“We have a variety of hardworking community groups that provide important services across our Municipality. Many have struggled this past year with an inability to fundraise due to public health restrictions. Council is pleased to be able to support these organizations, especially during such challenging times,” remarked Mayor Blair.
Each year the County’s operating budget is set within a context of competing needs, requests, opportunities, and anticipated revenues. Some costs and revenue streams are not within the Municipality’s control. Nearly 46% of taxes collected by the Municipality are transferred to the Provincial Government for services such as schools, housing, libraries, assessment services, corrections, and policing. This year the County had to accommodate another 3% increase totalling $438,539 in its required mandatory payments to the Province, bringing the total transfer to $14.9 Million. Such rising costs have made the budgeting process more and more demanding with each given year.
Recognizing the uncertainty of the pandemic and what each day may bring, Colchester County Council remains committed to fiscal stewardship and is optimistic that in partnership with its residents and businesses they will see brighter days ahead.