Despite COVID-19, City able to deliver balanced budget with no service cuts
Despite challenges presented by COVID-19, Fredericton City Council has approved a $125.1 million budget that continues to support municipal programs and invest in key infrastructure projects, without increasing the tax rate and only five small recreation and parking fee increases.
“As a result of COVID-19, we started our 2021 Budget preparations with a $3.1M shortfall”, said Coun. Greg Ericson, Chair of the City’s Finance & Administration Committee.
“Thanks to the budget flexibility that let us defer capital projects without major impact, ongoing growth in our city, and some pandemic relief funding from other levels of government, we have been able to deliver a balanced budget during these uncertain times.”
As in 2020, the inside tax rate will stay at $1.4311 per $100 assessment. The outside tax rate remains at $1.0733.
Continuing with the City’s five-year rate strategy to bring Fredericton’s fees in line with other New Brunswick municipalities, small fee increases will occur to one recreation and four monthly parking fees.
- Royals Field Cost per Game – increase from $43.20 to $52.84 effective January 1, 2021
- Frederick Square Garage Monthly Permit Fee – increase from $100 to $120 effective February 1, 2021
- East End Garage Monthly Permit Fee – increase from $120 to $130 effective February 1, 2021
- York Parking Lot Monthly Permit Fee – increase from $115 to $120 effective February 1, 2021
- Officers’ Square Parking Lot – increase from $115 to $120 effective February 1, 2021
$17.1 million is earmarked for capital projects investments in 2021. Capital projects highlights include:
- Implementation work related to the Odell, Killarney Lake, Wilmot and Carleton park plans – $1,000,000
- Rockwood Avenue Upgrade (Phase 1) / Odell Roundabout – $650,000
- Regent Street Reconstruction (Phase 1) – $600,000
- Brookside Drive Reconstruction (Phase 2) – $500,000
- Union Street Reconstruction – $450,000
- St. Mary’s Street Upgrades (Phase 2) – $450,000
- Campbell Creek Dam Removal – $200,000
In addition, funds have been set aside related to information technology; roadway infrastructure renewal, like asphalt, curb & gutter, sidewalk, storm sewer, and street lights; recreation and park infrastructure; fleet vehicles; facility repair and maintenance; parking and transit equipment; as well as police and fire equipment.
NOTE: Work on the Officers’ Square Revitalization Project will continue in 2021 using reserve funds already set aside for the project.
Design and planning work will also be carried in several areas, including: Recreation and Parks Master Plan ($145,000), Fieldhouse Feasibility Study ($50,000), and Cricket Field Needs Assessment ($30,000).
“As has been publicized, Council deferred several projects from the Capital budget to offset the shortfall in our operating budget”, added Coun. Ericson.
“While the projects will not have an immediate impact on the City’s infrastructure, future Councils will need to bring the items back for review. In the event additional pandemic relief funding is received from other levels of government, we will be able to put those deferred Capital items back on the table for discussion.”
Water & Sewer Utility
With water consumption up in Fredericton in 2020, the City’s Water & Sewer Utility has set aside its ongoing rate strategy and recommended that water & sewer rates not increase in 2021. Rates for 2021 will remain at $117.20 for the quarterly service charge and a usage fee of $1.86/m3. As per provincial legislation, Fredericton’s water and sewer utility is self-funded, deriving all its revenue from rates charged and government infrastructure grants. The total Water & Sewer Budget is $22.3M, with $11.5M going towards Capital projects.
Other Budget Highlights
- Where the Money Comes From:
- Property Tax Revenue – $110,537,926
- User Fees / Non-Tax Revenue – $12,539,125
- Unconditional Grant from the Province – $2,026,188
- The tax base will rise by 2.18 per cent: 1.44 per cent from new construction and 0.74 per cent from market assessment increases. Adjustments have been made to the commercial sector due to COVID-19.
- Where Your Tax Dollars Go
- Public Safety – $39,138,185
- Mobility – $17,435,070
- Livable Community – $14,323,276
- Environmental Stewardship – $4,473,121
- Economic Vitality – $6,664,489
- Governance & Civic Engagement – $5,166,315
- Assessment & Consolidated Deficit – $2,349,270
- Sustainable Infrastructure – $24,653,130
- $803,500 will be provided in grants to community groups in 2021.
- The 2021 Budget benefits from $213,572 in efficiencies identified by City staff during 2020.
For complete details on the City’s 2021 Budget, visit Fredericton.ca and search Budget 2021.