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St. John’s council projects no increase to 2020 residential mill rates

Coun. Dave Lane: “Sometimes you think because there’s construction that you don’t want to go down there – actually, get down to see the construction.”
Coun. Dave Lane. - Juanita Mercer file photo/The Telegram

Small increase coming to municipal water tax

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

The budget for 2020 won’t officially be announced until Dec. 9, but Coun. Dave Lane, lead for finance, projects there will be no increase to the residential mill rate. 

When the city announced the 2019 budget last year, it was thought mill rates would need to increase in 2020, but Lane said it looks like the increase will be averted. 

“Quite confident about that,” he told reporters Tuesday after the regular council meeting.

“And that is including anything you’ve heard us make decisions on, including the subsidy regarding the teams at Mile One.”

Lane said he will give details about where the city found savings this year at the budget announcement in December, but the city worked hard to ensure money was spent “wisely, prudently” this year. 

A news release issued just before the council meeting also said lower projected costs, such as electricity, puts the city “in a good position” as it finalizes the 2020 budget. 

However, residents can likely expect what Lane called a “small increase” to the water tax, an annual flat-rate fee that is the same for all residents. He said the city is still working to see if it can avoid increasing the water tax, but “you’ll likely see a small increase.”

Such an increase was previously projected. In 2019, when the city issued its three-year budget plan for 2019-21, it was projected residents would face another water tax increase in 2020.

Lane did not provide an estimate of the increase.

Last year, the water tax increased by $25, from $580 in 2018 to $605 in 2019.

Lane said the increase is “probably” more to do with electricity rates, but also “maybe” some infrastructure improvements.

Regarding wastewater upgrades mandated by the federal government, Lane said the city is arguing it should have an extra 10 years to meet the standard set by the federal government. 

He said the city will likely have to find capital funding through agreements with the federal and provincial governments to help cover the costly upgrades.

Twitter: @juanitamercer_


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