Thursday, February 04, 2010

City Treasurer & Coun O'Brien
Fredericton Approves 2010 Operating and Capital Budgets

The City of Fredericton has approved a $93.2 million general fund budget and a $12.1 million water and sewer budget for 2010. The budgets include both operating and capital amounts. During the budget process, the municipality identified several ways to reduce its operating budget that were reflective of current economic realities. Despite these efforts, a slight increase in the City’s tax rate for 2010 is necessary to maintain core infrastructure and position Fredericton for future growth and prosperity. There will also be some minor fee increases.

The inside rate will increase by 0.85 cents, rising from $1.4176 to $1.4261 per $100 of assessment. For a home valued at $150,000, the tax increase will mean $5.85 monthly or $70.18 per year. The outside rate will increase by the same amount, rising from $1.0632 to $1.0696. This is the first tax rate increase in seven years.

Coun. Mike O'Brien, Chair of the City of Fredericton’s Finance and Administration Committee presented the City’s 2010 Budget at a special Council meeting held on December 16, 2009.“This was a tough budget process for the City of Fredericton,” said Coun. O’Brien. “Our challenge was to find a sustainable way to balance economic growth and new capital projects while maintaining existing infrastructure and programs. The tax increase equals 0.6 of one per cent inflation as suggested by the Province of New Brunswick for municipal budgets this year.”

During the budget presentation, it was announced that the Two Nations Crossing transit route pilot would be postponed as of January 2, 2010 and not be renewed until population and business density in the area increased and provincial Department of Transportation infrastructure was in place on the Ring Road.

The resulting salary savings, as well as changes in Engineering and Public Works and Police departments have resulted in savings equal to five full time employees. Despite a human resources strategy to deal with the demands of a growing city, the municipality will not be hiring any new positions in 2010. Training, conference and travel budgets have been cut by almost $130,000.

These salary savings are contrasted against incremental salary and benefit costs from union contracts, as well as provincial legislation requiring firefighter compensation related to cancer and cardiac arrest. Inflationary factors are also at play in both operating and borrowing line items. A progressive 20-year capital deficit replacement program has been approved to maintain core infrastructure.

Parking fines will increase by $5 on January 1, 2010, rising from $10 to $15. The one hour rate will be the same as Saint John, Moncton and Halifax. Parking meter times will also be lengthened one hour starting on May 1, 2010, running from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.Monthly student transit fees will increase from $40 to $42 starting January 1, 2010. Fredericton’s transit fees continue to be the same or lower than Saint John and Moncton.Certain adult and minor ice rental fees will be adjusted by $12.50 per hour effective April 1, 2010.

Existing municipal grants have been reduced overall by $3,500 from $615,517 to $612,017. As announced, City Council approved $50,000 per year for the next five year’s as the City’s contribution to the new YMCA building. An increase of $40,000 in funding was also approved to the Enterprise Fredericton for strategic initiatives for related to population growth and investment attraction.

A variety of capital projects were increased for Engineering and Public Works, Community Services, Corporate Services and Development Services, as well as Police and Fire. The projects included road work, upgrades trails, tennis courts, and sporting fields, as well as outdoor, indoor and wading pools.Police and Fire will be able to buy new safety equipment and materials needed to do their job. A general focus will continue on smart, green, affordable housing, and wellness efforts at the City of Fredericton.

Water and Sewer Budget

Water and sewer rates will see the second year of a gradual five-year increase to fund the deficit in the utility experienced by a growing city and keep Fredericton’s water safe. The 2010 water and sewer rate will rise by five cents, increasing from 61 cents per cubic metre to 66 cents. The rate is the lowest among New Brunswick three large cities.

Coun. O’Brien concluded his remarks by reminding the public they can get budget details on the city’s web site at www.fredericton.ca. He also thanked the residents of the city, his Council colleagues and municipal staff, as well as government and business partners for their team work in making Fredericton a great place. “The last year has been about community partnerships, asphalt, concrete and cranes for Fredericton,” said Coun. O’Brien. “We have been recognized for our efforts, but we cannot rest on our laurels as we work to position Fredericton for the future.”

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