Saturday, February 28, 2009

The jigg is up....and eventually so will the taxes...

I spoke about this before but I'm pretty sure that Credit Union Place is one of the contributing factors that is putting pressure on the City of Summerside to raise taxes and if not this year, next for sure. Simply put the City like a lot of other small communities set out with good intentions to develop a community health scheme for their citizens that they could sell to Governments to help finance the capital costs. Unfortunately there always seem to be something that gets in the way of any good "public" plan and in this case it was in spades.... they started out with a budget $15,000,000 and spent about $40,000,000... they probably could have put it in a better location from an awareness point of view.... they miscalculated the fundraising drive... and due to this current economy there probably will be less market demand and higher operating costs than originally projected... and now they are "stuck" with it and after the Canada Games and there will probably be no more capital funding partners…. and no new real revenue opportunities due to a slowing economy and that's when tax hikes will probably catch up to them... and it may not be very pretty for the Summerside taxpayer...
Crunch time for Summerside financial decisions
Transcontinental Media
SUMMERSIDE - It’s decision-making time for Summerside city council. With funding applications in and consultations complete, council now has to decide how to dole out funding in its 2009 budget. Finance committee chair Bruce MacDougall admitted with the current economic slowdown, this year’s budget may be council’s most difficult to prepare. "We’re like every other community; we’re faced with our challenges. We’re going to do the best that we can with the resources we have right now." MacDougall’s giving no assurances tax hikes won’t be in the cards. "It’s been a number of years since we’ve had a tax increase. That’s our last resort," he added. "We’re probably at a point where we’ve got to take a good look at that way of thinking. Things are getting tough... There just seems to be less and less resources." If residential, water, electric or sewer rate increases are in the works, they’ll be nowhere near what the Community of Borden-Carleton is proposing. But, he added, Summerside is among the municipalities across Canada struggling to maintain water and sewer utilities. "If the costs are going up, the rates have to go up. If the costs are going down, the rates are probably going down," said MacDougall. The 2008 city budget totalled $36.8 million and included money for the 2009 Canada Games, to upgrade utilities and $320,000 in funding for community groups and organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club and Harbourfront Theatre. This year, the city received 40 such applications. Unfortunately, many won’t see money. "Everybody states their case and council, in their wisdom, has to go through it every year and put that money where we figure we are getting the best value," said MacDougall. "In times like these, do we increase that? I can’t see it really." City roads and streets continue to be priorities and money must be put into the ditch infilling program, added the finance committee chair. But, cautioned MacDougall, although more equalization funding is coming from the Province, it doesn’t mean the city is spending more in its budget. "There are lots of things that we have on the go that we’re funding," said MacDougall, refusing to hint to any big announcements. "There’s always good news in the budget." The budget will come down March 19 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

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