Charlottetown Announces Balanced Budget

Charlottetown Announces $59.7 Million Balanced Budget
Posted on 04/02/2020
The City of Charlottetown released its 2020-2021 balanced budget on Thursday, April 2. The City Corporation’s operational budget is $59.7 million and the Water and Sewer Utility operational budget is $14.3 million.

“We are faced with a balancing act of trying to meet the public expectation of maintaining our current service levels and looking for opportunities to expand or enhance those services. Add to that, the need to maintain and replace our aging infrastructure while, at the same time, service our growth areas and do it all in a fiscally and operationally sustainable way. Certainly, in these times of challenge and change, those tasks are magnified,” said Councillor Terry Bernard, Chair of the City’s Finance, Audit and Tendering Committee. “We are in times like no other where there is concern not only for the physical and mental health of our residents, but also for their financial health and well-being. One thing is clear, COVID-19 has changed how we interact with each other, here at home, and around the world.”

City Council passed the budget via teleconference as the address was live streamed to the public and the financial documents were made available online.

Residential and commercial municipal tax rates are being maintained at status quo, with no increases for the 2020-2021-budget year. No new initiatives were approved, and departments were reminded that, due to the ongoing pandemic, operational costs must continue to be refined. Senior management staff has been tasked with finding efficiencies as the City faces extraordinary budgetary pressures and revenue challenges in the weeks and months ahead.

“We will continue to work with Provincial and Federal governments to ensure that we strive to meet the collective needs of our citizens and mitigate the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Councillor Bernard. “We must also be prepared to play a role in getting our economy back up and running again once the risk of infection has diminished, which is why we have increased capital and operational spending for water and sewer utility upgrades, major street work, and emergency services. We will also use our contingency fund to help offset lost revenues and avoid the need for a municipal tax increase.”

Highlights from the operational budget include: $14.9 million for Public Works; $14.1 million for Police and Fire services; $3.9 million for Parks and Recreation; $1.2 million for transit; $660,000 for economic development; and $500,000 for community sustainability initiatives, among other investments.

Beginning September 1, 2020, on-street parking fees will increase to $2/hour, including HST. Parkades fees will also increase to $1.75 (including HST) as the hourly rate, $12.25 (including HST) for daily and $150 (including HST) for monthly. Money collected through parking will be used to maintain and invest in future capital requirements for the parkades.

Water and Sewer Utility rates will increase by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), at a rate of 1.2 per cent, as announced in last year’s budget address.

Earlier this Spring, the City’s Capital budget was passed unanimously by Council in the amount of $26.05 million, an increased investment of $4.08 million from the previous fiscal year. The $26.05 million for capital projects includes $4.39 million for the Water and Sewer Utility and $21.66 million for the City corporation with investments in paving and street rehabilitation, traffic and pedestrian signal upgrades, the purchase of two new fire trucks, emergency generators, energy upgrades, and transit, among other investments. During Tuesday’s budget address, Councillor Bernard announced that an additional $1-million will be added to the Capital budget for paving and street repairs through Gas Tax Funding.

“This season was unusually hard on the streets with the freeze-thaw cycles; there was a lot of damage caused,” said Councillor Bernard. “We see this as another investment in the economy; work that we will move forward on as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

During the budget address, Councillor Bernard urged the public to continue to look out for one another, heed the orders and recommendations from the Chief Public Health Officer, and stay safe at home as much as possible.

“These are, and will be, challenging times but we see glimmers of hope and the desire for neighbour to help neighbour. I encourage you to continue to stay in touch; reach out by phone, email, FaceTime, or other virtual means or, while keeping your social distancing, wave to let people know that you are thinking about them and that you do care.”

The public is reminded that those facing economic impacts due to the COVID-19 situation can contact Water and Sewer Utility Accounts to discuss alternate payment options at 902-629-4005. There will be no interest charges on late payments and all disconnections for non-payment have been suspended until further notice. Customers are encouraged to make small monthly payments if possible, in order to reduce future challenges.

The City of Charlottetown and Charlottetown Area Development Corporation (CADC) have also waived the monthly parking fee at the Fitzroy, Queen, and Pownal parkades for the month of April. Pre-authorized payments will be cancelled and invoices will not be issued, recognizing that the public may be experiencing financial hardship and there are some delays in Federal and Provincial emergency assistance programs for those dealing with unemployment or reduced hours of work.

To read the full budget address and access the City of Charlottetown’s operational and capital budget documents, visit: www.charlottetown.ca/budget The City’s budget meeting and address was streamed live. The video is available at www.charlottetown.ca/video