The Town’s Budget Process is Underway!

Presentation1 Page 1The 2018/19 Budget Process began on November 7, 2017 with a goal of approving a balanced budget on March 20, 2018 at the regularly scheduled Town Council meeting.  We will keep this page updated with information and key decisions following Committee of the Whole and Town Council meetings from now until March 20, 2018.

Join us in person or on Facebook Live for our Committee of the Whole and Town Council meetings to learn more about the Town’s Operating and Capital Budgets. Click here for dates and times!

Use the menu below to navigate each meeting, view agenda packages, presentations and key changes. 

November 7, 2017, Committee of the Whole

January 16, 2018, Special Committee of the Whole

February 6, 2018, Committee of the Whole

March 6, 2018, Committee of the Whole

March 20, 2018, Town Council 

November 7, 2017, Committee of the Whole

The following information was presented for discussion:

Taxable Assessments

Residential

  • preliminary PVSC data will not be available until December
  • new construction, average market value increase, impact of CAP not yet available
  • CAP % not available, currently estimate 1.2% – 1.5% (previous year was 1.4%)

Commercial

  • Preliminary PVSC data not available until December

Inflation/Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)/CPI

  • As noted for assessments, provincial CAPPED Assessment Program tied to October over October comparison (expected to = 1.4%)
  • Average COLA change to end of September = 1.2%

Provincial Financial Indicators (selected highlights).

  • Residential Tax Effort, maintained rank 18th out of 27 Towns (2015/16 data)
  • Debt Service ratio 5.9% – 9th best in province (’15/16 data)
  • 5 Year Capital Purchases – 4th best provincial rank
  • 5 Year Transfer to Capital Reserves – top rank

Capital Budget Information

The draft Capital Investment Plan (CIP) and related Project Charters can be viewed in the November 7, 2017 Committee of the Whole agenda package.

The first draft of the CIP presented to Council included the following projects in Year 1 (2018/19):

  • Community Development & Public Works Building Fire Safety and Accessibility Ugrades
  • Fire Pumper Truck Replacement
  • Gaspereau Avenue Storm
  • Kent Avenue (Main to Queen)
  • Shoreline Protection
  • East End Gateway Design
  • Evangeline Park
  • Nature Preserve Dam - engineering
  • Tennis Court Resurfacing

Not included in the list above is general equipment/upgrades and engineering costs that are consistent year over year.

No formal motion is made at this stage. Staff is seeking consensus from members of Council on overall budget goals for the 2018/19 Operating and Capital Budgets (Town and Water Utility).

Operating Budget

Council's direction to staff as they prepare the first draft of the Operating Budget is keep any tax increase within the Cost of Living (i.e. hold the tax rate).

Meeting Agends, Audio and Minutes can be found here.

January 16, 2018, Special Committee of the Whole

The Special COW in January is the first time the draft Operating Budget for the upcoming fiscal year is presented to Council.  Below is a highlight of information presented:

  • Draft Town Operating Budget V1 is NOT a balanced budget; short fall of $290,000
  • Options to reach a balanced budget may include a tax increases and/or other funding (possibly reserves) and/or expenditure cuts
  • This is only draft one and there is still time to make changes – 2 more months!

High Level View of Changes from 2017/18 Budget

Revenues

Non-property Tax Reviews has decreased by $59,600

  • The current draft assumes loss of Planning/DO/Building Inspection sale of services to Town of Windsor

Transfers from Operating Reserves has decreased by $76,100

  • Current draft assumes reserves used only for enhanced mill/pave at $60,000 and a Term Staff position in Planning for the MPS at $49,300.
  • Previous year reserves budgeted for the Mona Parsons Project, Wharf Repairs, MPS Graphic Design, MPS contract consultants and the balance of funds required for Wolfville School Playground grant.

*Operating Reserves may be considered for projects that are one-time costs to the Town that are important in the Expenses

Salary Wages have increased by $45,400

  • Increase includes Cost of Living Allowance, Merit, and Collective Agreement. 
  • It does not include additional staff position.

Insurance Expense increased by $15,400

  • This is to correct an error in previous year budget and allow for increase in premium costs generally resulting from claims history last couple of years.

Regional Services Partner costs increased by a total of $63,000

  • Valley Waste Regional Management is currently estimated at $45,500 higher than 2017/18
  • Regional Housing estimated at $10,000 higher to reflect higher than expected 2016/17 deficit.

Capital Program has increased by $15,900

  • This increase reflects Council’s commitment to grow the capital funding by 1% per year for the next four years.  It will increase to 2.5% per year for the next six years after that.

Impact on taxpayer if the rate is left unchanged

All ratepayers (residential & commercial)

  • Overall 1.96%
  • Excluding new construction/reno 0.11%
  • Residential 1.37%
  • Excluding new construction 0.13%
  • Commercial 4.88%
  • Excluding new construction -0.02%

In November, Council gave direction to Staff to come back with a draft budget that showed a tax increase at no more than the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for the past year.  In theory this equated to keeping the tax rate unchanged and allow the provincial CAP % to provide the increase in revenues equal to COLA.  However, the 2018 Assessment Roll has a large number of properties that did not have an increase that even reached the CAP % of 0.9%.  Therefore, if the Tax Rate is left unchanged:

Property Tax Increase ≠ Cost of Living Adjustment 

Highlights of the 2018 Assessment Roll are below:

89% of the 2018 Assessment Roll has less than a 1% increase in taxable assessment

  • 45% of the Assessment Roll qualified for CAP (0.9% increase)
  • 16% of the Assessment Roll showed no change in taxable assessment
  • 22% of the Assessment Roll showed a decrease in taxable assessment 

Impact of a 1 Cent Increase

84% of existing tax base would have a tax increase of less than 1.6%

  • 46% of existing tax base would have a tax increase of less than 1.5%
  • 20% of exiting tax base would have no tax increase of decrease
  • 17% of the existing tax based would still have a decrease

Overall 1 cent would generate $42,800 of revenue

  • 1 cent on the residential rate generates $39,400
  • 1 cent on the commercial rate generates $3,400

*In 2017/18 1 cent was added to the Residential Rate only.

Expenditures

Operating expenditures are up $247,400 overall

  • Salary & wages (permanent and seasonal), increase $122,500
    (including related benefit costs)
  • Contracted Services $110,400
    (includes $60,000 for additional mill/pave on Main St & >$21,800 RCMP)
  • Operational Equip/Supplies $62,600
    (includes Wharf Repairs, Mona Parsons Project, Wayfinding)
  • Stipends/Honorariums $21,600

Items not yet included in the first draft:

  • Landmark East and Wolfville School one time capital requests -  $200,000
  • Upward Pressure on Grants to Organizations Policy re: Strategic Partners category
    • Wolfville Historical Society
    • Devour
  • Recreation Study – joint initiative with other municipal units
  • Other costs – Municipal units in Kings Co. appear to have renewed momentum on common topics, could mean new costs for regional initiatives
  • Any savings IF Wolfville pulls out of the REN as per notice given a year ago

No formal motion is made at this stage.  Staff is continuing to seek consensus from Council.

Meeting Agends, Audio and Minutes can be found here.

*Minutes are approved at the next Committee of the Whole meeting

February 6, 2018, Committee of the Whole

 

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