Tuesday, April 11, 2017 (Halifax, NS) – Today, Regional Council approved the municipality’s $741.5-million operating budget and $187.3-million capital budget for 2017-18. The 2018-19 operating and capital budgets ($763.1 million and $156.7 million, respectively) were also approved, in principle.
The average single-family home tax bill will increase by $33 or 1.8 per cent in 2017-18 to $1,874. Increases at less than the annual pace of inflation are anticipated in each of the subsequent three years. Debt will continue to decline and should be as low as $245.8 million in 2017-18 and $240.7 million in 2018-19 and reserve balances will increase to $127.4 million in 2017-18 and $134.9 million in 2018-19, maintaining the municipality’s strong financial position.
In approving these budgets, Regional Council is signalling a new approach to managing the Halifax Regional Municipality’s finances through its multi-year budgeting strategy. To meet the municipality’s financial needs over the next four years, Regional Council is taking a balanced approach by:
- Adding new services while mitigating the escalating pace of service costs
- Approving slight reductions in the capital budget
- Moderately increasing taxes
- Increasing reserves to prepare for future obligations and new opportunities
This two-year approval supports the delivery of Regional Council’s strategic priorities adopted in December 2016. The new multi-year budget deliberation process was inspired by a healthy and respectful debate by Regional Council regarding municipal service options.
“The municipality is experiencing significant change and we need to embrace our opportunities and challenges with a steady hand,” said Mayor Mike Savage. “Regional Council is taking a measured, responsible, and long-term approach in order to ensure sustained growth.”
“Shaping the municipal budget is never done in isolation,” said Jacques Dubé, Chief Administrative Officer. “Regional Council has made its budget decisions with input from citizens and municipal staff, both vital for Regional Council in adopting a fiscally responsible budget that provides us with a clear roadmap to achieve its priorities. These are exciting times for HRM and we must continue to work as a team in support of the Mayor and Regional Council’s efforts to strengthen our economy and quality of life for everyone.”
“Nearly three-quarters of this year’s budget increase is for enhanced services,” said Chief Financial Officer, Amanda Whitewood. “At the same time we are investing in and creating new capital assets, increasing our reserves and lowering our debt. Our financial position is strong but not without significant challenges that are more effectively met with a multi-year fiscal strategy.”
Key programs and capital projects:
- Public Works: A significant investment will be made in active transportation, traffic improvements, street recapitalization and sidewalk renewal.
- Cogswell Redevelopment Project: Demolition may begin this year subject to Regional Council’s approval, followed by a three-year (2018-2020) construction period to redevelop the lands.
- Canada 150 program opportunities: Significant resources will be applied to leverage approximately $5-million of public and private funding to enhance Canada 150 celebrations (e.g. New Year’s Eve, Canada Day), and implement numerous parks and recreation infrastructure improvement projects throughout the Halifax region.
- Transit: The next four years will see a substantial investment in transit projects and infrastructure.
- Recreation: The new four-pad in Dartmouth will be completed this year, and work will begin in the spring on a significant refresh of the Dartmouth Sportsplex.
- Fire: Work begins on consolidation of the Sambro/Harrietsfield fire stations.
For more detailed information on the 2017-18 and 2018-19 operating and capital budgets visit www.halifax.ca/budget.