Mill rates drop in Upper Island Cove

Residents see it go from 9 to 6

Nicholas Mercer
Published on January 8, 2013

Upper Island Cove Mayor George Adams.

Compass file photo

Officials with the Town of Upper Island Cove thought it would be "unreasonable" not to lower residential taxes heading into 2013.

At its Dec. 10 regular council meeting, councillors adopted the town's 2013 municipal operating budget, which was highlighted by a significant three-point drop in the town's mill rate.

Going from 9 mills to 6 mills marks probably the largest drop amongst towns in the Trinity-Conception region.

Upper Island Cove Mayor George Adams said the rise in municipal assessments caused the town to flirt with lowering its rate.

"Our residential property assessments increased by an average of 63 per cent, so obviously it would be unreasonable to expect our residents to pay such a huge increase in their property values," he said.

Here is an example of how the drop would work.

A home that was previously valued at $150,000 would now have jumped to a value of roughly $244,500 under the 63 per cent increase.

If the town had held fast with a mill rate of 9, residents of that home would be paying $2,200 instead of $1,450 under the old assessments. That would be an increase of $750.

Due to the town dropping to a mill rate of 6, that resident would pay just $1,467 in property taxes.

"It would've been a crazy jump," said Adams. "That is much more reasonable."

The mayor said he believes the town has done good job of "striking a balance" between what the revenue the town needs in order to run the community and what the residents have to pay.

Meanwhile, the business assessments went up an average of 15 per cent, and Adams said there was not going to be an adjustment in the business mill rate for that.

"We had to make some minor adjustments, but by-in-large, that did not change a whole lot," he said.

There was a small increase in taxes for residents. The minimum amount that could be paid by residents rose from $375 to $400.

"There is no change in water and sewer tax," said Adams. It remains at $375 per unit.

A fair budget

Adams said he is pleased with the budget brought down by council. At some $1.2 million, he believes it is a "fair" budget for all in the community.

"It will give us the revenue to continue to give the level of service that residents have come to expect from us," said Adams.

The final number is on par with the budget brought down for 2012.

Upper Island Cove saw its debt service ratio drop in 2013.

For municipalities, the debt service ratio is the percentage of yearly revenue a town uses to meet its debt requirements. In 2012, the debt ratio stood at 19 per cent and in 2013 that number will be dropping to 17 per cent. In the past, Upper Island Cove's debt service ratio has stood at 27 per cent.

Light show

Adams said one of the goals heading into 2013 will be to install banks of lights at the ball field on Crane's Road.

It has everything else, including a modern clubhouse, but teams are unable to play when the sun goes down.

The issue has been factored into the town's capital works plans for this upcoming year.

"We're going to try and make that a reality as well," said Adams. "I think the demand on the facility means it should be lit up during the nighttime to allow more community and youth groups to avail of the recreational facility."

Adams said the paving of local roads has also been included in the capital works plans, which have been factored into the 2013 budget.

The following are some highlights from the budget:

° Protection - $25.253.16;

° Roads - $141,519.20;

° Snow - $96,798.53;

° Recreation - $15,950.