Residential property taxes in Digby will be going up about $20 for a $100,000 home.
Digby town council approved several small tax increases at their regular council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
“That’s the first increase in the residential rate in eight years,” says Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland.
The town’s operating budget has increased by 4 per cent from $4,244,009 to $4,404,008.
Mayor Ben Cleveland says that increase is mostly due to 7 per cent increase in policing costs from $723,000 to $778,000.
The town also had to absorb $80,000 in costs for supplemental housing, provincial jails and education the province had promised to take over.
Increases in salaries and other operating costs also made up a minor contribution to the increased budget.
Council set the 2012/ 2013 residential and resource tax rate at $1.94 for $100 of assessment, up from $1.92.
Ossinger provided council with a comparison to the other 31 towns in Nova Scotia. Based on last year’s rate Digby’s was the 22nd lowest, meaning only nine towns had a higher residential rate.
By commercial rate however Digby was the 12th lowest meaning only 11 towns had a lower commercial tax rate.
The commercial rate for 2012/ 2013 will be $3.99, up from $3.89.
Ossinger says the tax rate alone doesn’t tell the whole story.
“Just because the tax rate is up doesn’t mean your taxes are higher or lower,” he says. “You figure out you need X amount of dollars to run the town, you know the assessment, and then the rate is the multiplier that gets you that amount. ”
Ossinger says because the assessment in town was mostly flat while the cost of living went up three per cent and policing went up seven per cent, the budget had to go up four per cent.
Sewer is headed up from $5.05 per 1,000 gallons of water consumption to $5.95.
According to a 2001 by-law, that rate has to be adjusted every year to make sure it covers costs but nothing more.
Any surplus or deficit has to be added or subtracted from costs before determining the next year’s rate.
Revenue from the sewer charge last year resulted in a $17,000 deficit that was added to costs this year.
The deficit comes from a decline in water consumption, which means less revenue while operating costs remained more or less the same.
Ossinger says they had hoped the sewer rate had plateaued but delays in construction of the new sewage plant mean running the more expensive plant in town longer.
Ossinger hopes the sewer rate will start going down for 2013/ 2014 when the new plant in Smith’s Cove comes online.
Residential garbage pickup also rose from $208.50 to $214 per dwelling unit.