Mayor Christopher Clarke says municipal indicators show a couple areas we need to improve, but the Region is working on them.
The Financial Condition Indexes released on May 15 are the result of several years of collaborative effort between the province and municipalities.
The new tool gives a snapshot of the financial health of a municipality, including revenue, budget and capital assets.
Out of the 15 indicators, the Region of Queens Municipality only had two in ‚Äúthe red.‚ÄĚ That means that Queens did not meet the Rural Municipality Threshold on those two indicators.
Mayor Clarke says that although two indicators are red, Queens is being compared to a threshold for rural municipalities but Queens is amalgamated.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôre comparing us to a group that does not have a town as part of it,‚ÄĚ says Clarke.
Jennifer Keating- Hubley, Director of Finance for the Region of Queens Municipality says that because Queens is an amalgamated municipality, the government here provides more services than other municipalities. She also says it makes Queens an ‚Äúanomaly‚ÄĚ in the province.
The first indicator in the red is for uncollected taxes. Queens has a 12.1 score while the threshold should be under 10. The average for rural municipalities is 10.4.
‚ÄúThat number is the total taxes that are outstanding in our receivables at the end of the year 11/12 compared to the total that we were able to bill in that year,‚ÄĚ says Keating-Hubley. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs the total arrears balance for all years divided by the total that was billed for that current year.‚ÄĚ
Although the report is new for the Queens, Mayor Clarke says the uncollected taxes have already been on the radar for Region staff and plans were already being made on how to address the issue. He says that payment arrangements can be made at the Region of Queens Municipal Building, tax bills do not necessarily have to be paid at one time but rather a payment schedule can be made.
The second indicator in the red is for a ‚Äúa 3 year change in tax base.‚ÄĚ That number is 6.1, the threshold is above 8.4 while the average for rural municipal units is 9.9.
‚ÄúThat particular indicator for assessment values is strictly based on the values that PVSC (Property Valuation Services Corporation) set on the properties that we base our taxes on,‚ÄĚ says Keating-Hubley.
The website where these numbers can be found says a percentage lower than the threshold indicates property assessments are growing slower than inflation.
The numbers come from a 2011/2012 report as well, which means the numbers may not be a true reflection of the current situation, particularly because the former Bowater Paper Mill closed in 2012.
One indicator shows that Queens relies on a single business/institution for its assessment values more so than the average rural municipality. Surprisingly that number is not referring to the former paper mill but rather property owned by Nova Scotia Power in the area. That means that number most likely won‚Äôt change in the next report.
Mayor Clarke says that the numbers are influencing how the Region moves ahead but at this point they only provide guidelines.
‚ÄúI think they‚Äôre a guide only because they are old numbers,‚ÄĚ says Mayor Clarke. ‚ÄúThe past can only be a guide to how you move ahead, it does alert us to areas that we need to pay particular attention to.‚ÄĚ
To view the financial indicators of the Region of Queens Municipality or other municipalities visit http://novascotia.ca/dma/finance/indicator/fci.asp