Projected $3 million surplus highlights proposed municipal budget

Road sign showing two people in a canoe with the words Queens Coast
Queens council has approved a “Lost at Sea Memorial” in Fort Point Park. Photo by Ed Halverson.
Ed Halverson - QCCR/CJQC - LiverpoolNS | 14-03-2022
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The Region of Queens is projecting a $3.4 million surplus in this year’s budget and knows how to spend it.

While some of the money will be put into reserves, council agreed the bulk of the windfall will be used to build a new library.

Mayor Darlene Norman says it’s an excellent way to build out a resource that is needed by the community without putting undue burden on the residents.

“No long-term borrowing, no need for debentures, this build will not show up on any future operational budgets of the Region’s,” said Norman.

The process of finding a location, picking a design, and getting feedback from library officials will begin almost immediately after the budget is passed in the hopes a new library can be opened next year.

Almost $2 million of the surplus comes from federal and provincial sources, an increase in deed transfer tax accounted for another million, $320,000 came from a pension fund surplus and roughly $200,000 is a result of work that needed to be deferred due to the pandemic.

Residents can also look forward to paying less in commercial and residential property tax.

Norman says assessments in Queens County have risen, on average by five percent in the last year.

Staff initially recommended lowering the rate by four cents per $100 of assessment.

Because of the recent and rapid rise in oil prices, they suggested a more cautious reduction of two and a half cents per $100.

Norman says council reviewed the low-income tax rate rebate program to better support those who are most vulnerable.

“Currently the Region of Queens maximum allowable amount of income going in that home would be $25,000,” said Norman. “We’ve increased that to $30,000 and the rebate of $250 has been increased to $300.”

Several capital projects are identified in this year’s draft budget including upgrades to the sewage treatment plant in Caledonia, rebuilding the compactor at the solid waste facility, investments in I.T. and expanded broadband coverage across the region.

Norman says some needed sewer line upgrades in Liverpool will mean borrowing $600,000.

“We have infrastructure in Liverpool that's 100 - 135 years old that infrastructure or public works department will continue to upgrade,” said Norman. “That infrastructure and that funding is not on our operational [budget]. It's on those who are on the sewer system, those who are on the water system and some of the gas tax money. It's user-pay.”

The full budget will be brought before council Tuesday March 22 at 6:00pm in council chambers.

E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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