Residential mill rates increase in both communities
Mount Pearl and Paradise both released their 2019 budgets on Tuesday, and while residents in both places will see mill rates increase, the budgets present the communities as good places to do business.
In Mount Pearl, commercial property taxes and business tax rates will both decrease by four per cent. The general commercial mill rate will decrease by 0.7, to 16.8.
The city is also offering incentives for start-up businesses to make a home in Mount Pearl, such as offering them a scaled taxation program – details on that will be announced in March.
In Paradise, commercial mill rates will remain steady at 11.5 in an effort to promote business attraction and growth.
Commercial assessments in Mount Pearl and Paradise both increased this year, while residential assessments were down, which also accounts for the increased residential mill rates but decreased or unchanged commercial rates.
In Mount Pearl, Coun. Andrea Power said the city was “very strategic” in balancing the commercial assessments decrease with the residential assessments increase.
“We certainly tried to approach this budget process in a fair and balanced manner,” Power said after delivering the budget.
“We certainly didn’t want to see a deficit on the residential side, and we were facing that with keeping the mill rate the same as it was last year – to the tune of about half a million dollars.”
In Paradise, residential property assessments decreased just over five per cent.
Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Laurie delivered the budget and said the town had to increase residential mill rates in order to maintain revenues.
That means about half of the town’s residents will see taxes go up next year, while the other half will see them either remain the same or decrease.
Of the half of Paradise residents who will see taxes increase, about 36 per cent will pay an additional $10 or less per month in taxes. Ten per cent of residents will see an increase of between $10 and $20 per month, and the remaining four per cent of people will see an increase greater than $20 per month.
Mount Pearl is spending on digital technology next year to make city services and facilities more efficient and integrated.
For example, a $650,000 system will integrate and automate all of the city’s back-office operations so all facilities operate on the same platform. Power said that will improve efficiency at the city.
Another $100,000 spent on software will create what Power called a “one stop shop” database for residents. Any time residents contact the city, staff can pull up that person’s file to quickly give them information, such as what their taxes were last year.
The software will keep track of a wide range of citizen information, such as who has children enrolled in swimming lessons or whether residents made complaints about snowclearing, said Power.
The budget will also affect some recreational activities and groups.
The city will support organized groups in the city with more than $450,000 allocated to subsidies for organizations such as Admiralty House, the Frosty Festival and others.
However, some recreation and facility fees will increase next year. For example, the cost to rent the Reid Centre will go up by $24, to $635 per event. Pool drop-in rates are going up 50 cents per session, and Base Camp fitness membership rates will increase by $4 per month for students and seniors, to $40 a month.
Paradise plans for future
In Paradise, council is thinking into the future with the 2019 budget.
Laurie announced the creation of an Infrastructure Reserve Fund – the purpose of which is to upgrade and replace various town assets such as roads and water and sewer infrastructure when the need arises.
The town budgeted $1 million for that fund next year.
The town also allocated funds for the completion of the Topsail Road-McNamara roundabout, upgrades to Clearview Heights and plans for a new roundabout at Kenmount Road and McNamara Drive.
The town hopes to encourage more lower-income families to participate in recreation programs with the creation of a new funding program to assist those families.
The budget also allocated funds to upgrade the lighting system at the Milton Road Ballfield.
Mount Pearl budget highlights:
$54.4 million in total spending, down nearly $4 million from last year
Residential mill rate increase of 0.4, to 7.4
No increase to residential water rates
Commercial mill rate decrease of 0.7, to 16.8
Debt servicing ratio of 6.5 per cent
$2 million on fleet renewal
$240,000 increase to improve snow removal services
Some recreation and facility fees will increase
Paradise budget highlights:
$37.3 million in total spending, an increase of about $1.6 million over last year
Residential mill rate increase of 0.4, to 7.2
Residential water and sewer tax up by $50, to $600 per unit
Commercial mill rate unchanged at 11.5
Debt servicing ratio of 5.5 per cent, down 1.2 per cent from last year
$1-million expenditure on new Infrastructure Reserve Fund
$12 million for road, infrastructure and capital projects
Allocations to complete Adams Pond Trail and improve T’railway