by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services
NNSL (NOV 15/96) - The city's draft 1997 budget contains no property tax increases and continues to chip away at the debt.
In the works since summer, the draft budget was released to the public today. Copies are available at city hall for $25 each and available for loan at the library.
In the draft, property taxes remain unchanged. The mill rate, used to calculate taxes, remains at 14.6 for commercial property and 8.3 for residences.
Finance director Joe Kronstal, who described the draft as "a status quo budget," said tax revenues will rise slightly because of a 1.5-per-cent growth in the tax base this year.
The city will continue to chip away at its debt, which now stands at $25.5 million, down from last year's $28.8 million. Finance staff predict the debt will drop to $24.1 million next year, and, if the trend continues, the debt should be down to $17.7 million by 2000.
The water and sewer infrastructure replacement levy has also been dropped. The $5 monthly charge to each home was introduced four years ago as an attempt to pay for infrastructure replacement without borrowing.
If the charge is dropped the city will take in 7.9 per cent less for water and sewer services in 1997.
But while one charge is dropped, another is added. The draft introduces a charge of 50 cents per month per household. The "recycling fee," if approved, will be used to pay for another worker at the landfill to separate recyclables from waste.
All budget estimates are based on the city's block funding agreement with the territorial government. The agreement runs until 1999.
The public will have several opportunities to express their views and make recommendations on the budget.
Public input is encouraged at the committee of the whole review, being held Nov. 26, 27 and 28 in council chambers. The meetings start at 7 p.m. each night.
Last chance to have a say will be at a Dec. 10 special council meeting.