HRM is tightening its belt and it’s going to hurt a little.
Staff released the 2010-11 budget at the Halifax regional council meeting last night and if it’s approved taxes and some fees will go up while some HRM services will be reduced.
“The new budget is by no means pain-free,” warned chief administration officer Dan English.
Staff used an average house assessed at $180,200 and within a kilometre of transit to calculate the tax increases: A 1.7 per cent general tax increase along with increases to the transit rate and others will mean an extra $56 on the tax bill.
Staff are trying to cut expenses and raise revenues to compensate for a $35.5-million shortfall.
Transit expansion, compensation increases to staff, the province increasing the HST, and a hit on solid waste operations are a few reasons why the municipality is struggling to balance its books this year.
For residents it could mean a higher tax bill but also no weekly summer green cart service, increase in many user fees and reductions to several city-run programs.
Staff are expecting these changes to take effect July 1.
For HRM staff it means fewer jobs. Six or seven workers have been laid off in the reduction of visitor information centres and cemetery services. Sixty full-time positions will be lost through attrition and hiring freezes. It’s proposed the city will also cancel its holiday service at the call centre.
Cathie O’Toole, director of finance, told council it may need to get used to the fact the same level of service may not be there.
“We have to get comfortable saying no,” she said.
Councillors tabled the budget at their meeting last night and agreed not to debate it until after several workshops this week and a debate on Friday.