The town of Digby has rolled back plans for a tax increase but will still increase garbage and sewer rates as planned.
The town’s draft budget presented on June 12 had included a one-cent increase for both residential and commercial tax rates.
But staff presented, and council approved, an amended budget on Monday, June 30 which set the tax rates the same as last year: $1.99 per $100 of assessment for residential and $4.18 for commercial.
Staff cut the budgets for public works streets salaries, snow and ice removal salaries, and staff training for a total of $14,300 in cuts dropping total expenditures from $4,795,400 to $4,781,600.
The new budget not only eliminates the tax increase, but staff also reduced the amount of money to be taken from the town’s accumulated surplus by $2,400, down from $20,000 to $17,600.
Mayor Ben Cleveland says the reduction in public works salaries is mostly due to a decrease in staff positions there – they have had four employees retire or resign in the last six months and only one of those will be replaced.
“People shouldn’t see an impact on service,” he said. “This was mostly just a fine tuning of the positions there. We want to review it and see if we can keep the staffing levels where they are.”
The budget for public works salaries for streets was reduced $6,600 from $262,700 to $256,100.
And the budget for snow and ice removal wages was reduced by $3,700 from $35,700 to $32,000.
The budget for staff travel and training was reduced from $4,500 to $2,500.
The budget for animal control was reduced from $5,500 to $4,000.
The town’s annual sewer charge will rise 40 cents to $5.95, after going down from $5.95 to $5.55 last year.
Town CAO Tom Ossinger says the biggest factor driving the sewer rate increase is the steady decline in consumption, upon which the rate is based.
In simpler terms, residents pay per litre of water used and since people are using less water and creating less waste water, the water commission receives less income.
Ossinger said in his report to council that town management will be reviewing the way they calculate the sewer rate and making recommendations to council as part of the 2015/2016 budget deliberations.
Solid waste (garbage, compost and recycling) will also go up from $221 to $234 per dwelling unit.
Ossinger also recommended, for future budgets, council look at reducing the collection of recyclables to every other week and roll back the extra summer pick up of green carts from weekly to the normal every other week.