AMHERST, N.S. â€“ Cumberland County is holding the line on taxes despite some of the financial pressures associated with the COVID-19 virus.
During a virtual session on Wednesday night, May 20, municipal council passed a $29.8-million budget for 2020-21 that sees the general residential tax rate remain at $1.19 per $100 taxable assessment and the commercial assessment kept at $2.78 per $100 assessment.
â€śMaintaining our residential and commercial tax rates without an increase is important as we recognize the impact of COVID-19 on residents and businesses,â€ť Warden Allison Gillis said. â€śWe also didnâ€™t want to lose sight of the important services our residents count on.â€ť
Highlights include maintaining transfer stations, the introduction of a new-fee ice program for youth at the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill, a uniform streetlight fee across the rural areas of the county and a new policy to allow for a one-time property tax installment payment program for residential and commercial properties negatively affected by the pandemic.
Besides the general tax rate, residents in the Springhill service area will pay an additional 86 cents per $100 and the all-inclusive residential rate for the Springhill service area will be $2.05 per $100.
In Parrsboro, residents will pay an additional 48 cents per $100 and the all-inclusive residential rate for the service area will be $1.67 per $100.
For commercial property owners in Springhill, there will be a fee of $2.18 per $100 assessment with the all-inclusive rate being $4.96 per $100 while in Parrsboro there will be a $1.19 per $100 commercial rate for an all-inclusive commercial rate of $3.97 per $100.
Village rates are 10 cents per $100 for River Hebert and 32 cents per $100 for Pugwash residents and 39 cents per $100 for commercial properties in Pugwash.
While introducing the budget, the countyâ€™s director of finance, Andrew MacDonald, said the overall budget for the municipality has decreased by 2.6 per cent, or $809,714. He said the impact of COVID-19 decreased budgeted revenues by $220,000 and expenditures by $996,000 with much of the decrease being in salaries, travel, and training.
The municipality did not set its sewer rate or local improvement rate for Parrsboro. After running into considerable opposition from Parrsboro residents, council postponed a scheduled virtual public hearing until a time when a face-to-face public meeting can be held.
The county has already passed a $4.5-million capital budget which includes an $800,000 investment in the Cumberland-Colchester Rural Broadband Project and a $795,000 investment in the Community Buildings Solar Installation Project that will see electricity-generating solar panels installed at the Springhill water treatment facility and the Springhill and Parrsboro wastewater treatment facilities.