The short presentation recently given to Council by Councillor Irving and the longer final report of the Fiscal Sustainability Task Force are both now online at the Town Website for examination – in PDF as is practically everything that they have available online.
Here is just a tiny sample from the presentation to whet your appetite:
Current Town Operating Budget is 7.3 million.
Town Operating Expenses grew by 18% from 2004- 2008 and was 2nd highest of the benchmark towns (Berwick 18.4%). The inflation rate in Canada during this period was 9%. …
Residential Taxes have increased at a compound rate of 6.25% per year from 2000-2009.
Wolfville has the 3rd highest tax burden in the Province.
There is a growing understanding that there are many lower income residents in Wolfville and these citizens could be greatly effected by significant increases to taxes.
A review of a randomly selected tax bills revealed that there are some homeowners who have had taxes double in 10 years.
Key findings [from the final report’s exec. summary]
1. Commercial Assessments Are Declining as a Percentage of Total Assessments: Wolfville has experienced a decline in commercial assessment as a percentage of total assessment, increasing the dependence of the community on the residential tax payer.
2. The Capacity to Increase Residential Taxes may be Exhausted: The residential tax burden in Wolfville is the 3rd highest in Nova Scotia making it unlikely that future revenues can be derived from significant increases in residential taxes.
3. The Capacity of the Town of Wolfville to Deal with Additional Financial Risks in its Budget is Limited: There are a number of operational budget pressures and external risks anticipated on the Town’s operational budget that may limit the Town’s ability to meet demands.
4. There is a Growing Infrastructure Deficit: The infrastructure deficit is growing at a pace that far exceeds the community’s ability to pay for improvements.
5. There is a Rural/Town Legislative Imbalance that puts Towns in Nova Scotia at a Competitive Disadvantage: A higher proportion of the Wolfville Town budget is spent on maintaining and replacing roads, water and sewer than neighbouring rural municipalities because of provincial legislation.
The Task Force concluded that Wolfville is not fiscally sustainable on its current path. Immediate action is required. This report describes the key findings behind this conclusion and provides the Wolfville Town Council with recommendations going forward.
The final report is 87 pages, which includes about 40 pages of appendices.