Municipality of Pictou County approves $18 million budget for 2020-21

Council Meeting2

The Municipality of Pictou County has approved an $18.26 million-dollar operating budget that will see property tax rates unchanged for the upcoming fiscal year.

Council approved the 2020-2021 budget during its July Council meeting as well as tax rates that will remain at .81 cents per $100 of assessment for residential and $1.82 for commercial properties. 

Finance Committee Chair Coun. David Parker thanked the staff for working diligently to put together a balanced budget that holds the tax rate for another year.

“I believe this is my number one priority on Council and I am very pleased in these difficult circumstances they have chosen to make some sacrifices that allow us to at least hold the line. We will have to keep our belts tight throughout the year to make sure we don’t go over our budget,” said Coun. Parker during Monday’s monthly meeting.

Tax revenue is estimated to come in at $16.6 million which is only a .8 percent increase from the 2019-2020 budget while other revenue is the same as the previous year or decreased.

County Warden Robert Parker said he is also pleased that Council has approved a budget that keeps tax rates the same as the previous year as well as maintaining the area rates for streetlights, sewer maintenance, and other services.

“This was a particularly challenging year for staff to present a balanced budget to Council with the loss of $325,000 pending appeal of Northern Pulp’s assessment to zero following the shutdown and the added cost of $175,000 for an election year, a total gap of a half a million dollars,” he said.

The largest increase in expenditures is in general government expenses which come in at $3.4 million. The 19 percent increase in the budget allows for unresolved appeals from Northern Pulp and municipal election expenses. 

Public housing has also increased by 20 percent and the cost of education has increased by 2.8 percent this fiscal year to $5.1 million. Both expenditures are mandated by the provincial government.

Council approved $353,000 in Council Grants and $188,045 in Municipal Grants that provide funding assistance to community groups with operating and capital projects.  

“We as Council, are proud, despite the difficult circumstances of the above-mentioned factors and COVID-19, that we were able to support major projects across the County, including a share of the new Farmer’s Market building in New Glasgow and the Ship Hector refit, both of which will have funding paid out over numerous years,” said Warden Parker.

He added the Municipality of Pictou County will also continue to cooperate with the Province to repave some J Class roads that include MacKenzie Road, First Street, and Fourth Street, all in District 10,  and to assist with operating costs at Viola’s Place in support of people without a home.

“It is a very tight budget and Council will have to continue to guard valuable taxpayer dollars closely, but at the same time, encourage growth and development throughout our rural Municipality, cooperating with our urban neighbours where it makes a better County for us all,”   Warden Parker said.

The entire budget can be viewed on our website at www.county.pictou.ns.ca