2020 balanced budget charts strategic path to economic growth
Bathurst City Council completed its budget exercise and approved the city’s budget for 2020 at Monday night’s regular Council meeting. The budget established core elements, which will guide the municipality towards economic growth opportunities.
The 2020 General Operating Budget is established at $25,928,532 and the Utility Operating Budget is established at $7,160,548.
“With this budget, one area of increased focus will be overall debt repayment. Within two years, we’ve increased payments on interest and long term loans by $300,000, totalling near $2,75 million dollars, 10.6 percent of our annual budget. That will allow for more financial flexibility in the medium to long term, enabling us to strategically target specific economic initiatives more aggressively”, said Mayor Paolo Fongemie.
As in the past three years, the budget maintains a zero percent increase in the city’s tax rate. However, Water and Sewer fees will be adjusted from an average annual rate of $655.20 to $767.95. “This adjustment brings rates to a level that is closer to the real cost for the service, the increases totalling an average of about $10 monthly. Even at this new level, we are looking at one of the better rates for Water and Sewer services in the province. Further, this is based on usage. So if you are accustomed to efficient use of water services, this adjustment will have minimal impact as fees are based on usage”, Fongemie said.
Economic Development will be at the forefront. A 2.3% increase in the City’s tax base assessment will generate close to $430,000, and the new Tourism Accommodation Tax Levy will bring in the area of $150,000.
”Early in the new year, we will announce the implementation of new Incentive Programs to our economic platform, new elements that will strengthen our ability to attract new citizens, enable opportunities for a first-time homeowner, growing your business or starting a new one. We very much look forward to this program’s launch, charting a new strategic path to our economic growth”, the mayor concluded.