Moncton has approved its 2024 budget with a slightly larger tax rate cut than originally proposed.
Councillors ended three days of budget talks Thursday morning with unanimous votes in favour of a $212-million operating budget, a $61-million capital budget and a $44.6-million utilities budget.
"We're really proud of this budget," Jacques Doucet, the city's general manager of financial services, told reporters Thursday.
The tax rate will drop 2.1 cents, to $1.4231 per $100 of assessed value, for most residential properties. That's a larger cut than the 1.5 cents originally proposed on Tuesday.
The residential rate for areas once part of the Moncton local service district — amalgamated with the city on Jan. 1 — will be $0.9658 per $100 of assessment, a five-cent increase.
Jacques Doucet, Moncton's general manager of financial services, says the city is proud of the budget approved Thursday. (Shane Magee/CBC)
On Thursday, councillors voted to leave the non-residential rate charged to commercial or industrial properties the same at $2.3629 per $100 of assessed value.
That meant an additional $633,000 in revenue used to fund several motions councillors proposed during budget talks:
$5,000 for four portable toilets in city parks where there aren't any washrooms currently.
An additional $30,000 for a Downtown Moncton Centre-Ville Inc. project that will be made permanent at a total cost of $380,000 next year.
$100,000 in a reserve for potential projects stemming from a new social inclusion plan approved by council Monday.
The remaining $498,000 was used to reduce the residential tax rate.
Other changes made Thursday before final approval included shifting $100,000, from 2025 to 2024, to start planning and designing a new outdoor pool.
Shelter grant upped
The city's $42,500 grant to Harvest House, which operates a downtown homeless shelter, housing and other programs, will be increased to $100,000.
Coun. Dave Steeves moved the motion earlier this week saying Moncton has benefited from the work the organization does and they know how it spends its money.
Councillors voted Thursday to pay for the $57,500 increase by using $112,000 the municipality has held back from the House of Nazareth, which runs a separate shelter downtown that has been controversial.
A 2021 vote by council has the city is withholding Nazareth's grant funding until it submits an operational plan.
Doucet told reporters that plan may be submitted soon. If so, the funding for Harvest House will instead come from a $1-million contingency fund council established last year.
Councillors also voted to request the Codiac Regional Policing Authority hire a staff member, which the organization that oversees the RCMP says may be funded next year from its existing budget.
Coun. Bryan Butler said the policing authority will need to define what the position will entail.
Thursday saw further discussion about the lack of information to justify four more Codiac Regional RCMP officers.
"We need to send out a signal that we're not going to do this again," Coun. Charles Leger said Thursday.
He said the city should have received data about whether five added this year affected crime in some way.
"But we don't get any of that," Leger said. "If it was any other department, we'd say no immediately but because it's policing, we step back."
However, councillors later voted to approve the city budget with money for the four officers.