Minister Not Offering Much Help to CBRM
Municipal Affairs Minister Mark Furey isn’t offering much in the way of help to the CBRM as it grapples with a 3 million dollar budget shortfall.
Cape Breton Regional Mayor Cecil Clarke showed signs of frustration when he criticised the province for not providing assistance during a pre-budget meeting on Wednesday.
When asked about the issue yesterday, Furey acknowledged some municipalities are having difficulties but then pointed to the example of Bridgewater which he says dealt with a million dollar budget deficit without raising taxes.
Meanwhile, CBRM economic development manager John Whalley says the new index doesn’t accurately portray the fiscal health of the CBRM.
He adds the province is measuring municipal health by only one indicator; the residential tax effort or the average property owner’s income used to pay municipal taxes.
The new website shows 15 indicators to measure a municipality’s score in areas such as revenues, budget deficits and capital assets.
The CBRM is in the red or below the provincial benchmark in six areas.
Whalley says that means the province will come back to the CBRM and say it’s below the threshold for the residential tax effort and has a great deal of room to grow when it comes to municipal taxes.
The CBRM is looking at a number of cuts to bridge the gap without raising taxes.
They include cutting the transit service by 200 hours a week, eliminating 9 school crossing guard locations and closing its four citizen service centres.