GUYSBOROUGH – As part of a five-year plan to respond to a significant drop in revenues with the decommissioning of the Sable Offshore Energy Project, the District of Guysborough's new budget includes five-cent increases in both the residential and commercial tax rates. The 2019-2020 budget, tabled at last Wednesday's regular monthly meeting of council, brings the residential tax rate to $0.71 per $100 of assessment. The commercial rate will be $2.68 per $100 of assessment.
This is the second consecutive year that residential and commercial taxes have increased by $0.05 each; MODG still has the lowest residential tax rate in the province.
In a conversation with The Journal, Warden Vernon Pitts discussed the municipality's fiscal situation.
“We have programs and facilities and infrastructure in place within the municipality, and we have to pay for these things," he said. "We have to pay for the capital as well as the operating. This was one of the easier ways to do it. Everybody takes a little hit, but everybody benefits too when the times are good.”
MODG is also trimming costs. The new budget includes a 25 per cent reduction in some municipal grants as well as reduction in operating budgets. Council is also reducing contributions and repayments to reserves related to the second generation Waste Facility and Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex.
Warden Pitts also provided a statement provided to media, saying, “The decisions Council will make here today with the adoption of the 2019-2020 budget are part of a long term plan which I believe is fiscally responsible, will remain competitive with MODG still having the lowest residential tax rate in the province of Nova Scotia.”
The warden said this year's shortfall of $1.25 million is due to declining gas revenues and increasing costs. The increase in taxes will make up only $197,696 of this amount, he said.