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City raises property taxes

Emily Ridlington
Northern News Services
Published Monday, March 28, 2011

IQALUIT - Residential and business property owners in the territory's capital will pay more in taxes in 2011 because of a cut in funding to the City of Iqaluit by the Government of Nunavut.

NNSL photo/graphic

Romeyn Stevenson: The City of Iqaluit is going to be operating with a balanced budget of approximately $36 million for 2011.

Biggest expenditures in Iqaluit's 2011 budget
  • $2.5 million - completion of paving project started in 2008
  • $1 million - landfill water management upgrade
  • $450,000 - design of solid waste management facility
  • $200,000 - vacuum truck
  • $200,000 - sanitation garbage collection vehicle
  • $120,000 - renovations to Apex bridge
  • $100,000 - construction phase of new cemetery
  • $80,000 - soccer turf
  • $50,000 - landfill vehicle
  • $40,000 - acoustic panels for the Arctic Winter Games Arena
  • $30,000 - pavement maintenance plan

Source: City of Iqaluit

"I think it's a careful budget," said councillor Romeyn Stevenson, chair of the finance committee. "We've haven't gone out of our way to spend a lot of money this year on things that are new."

Councillors unanimously approved a balanced $36 million budget at a council meeting on March 8.

The GN reduced the funding it provides to the city by 75 per cent, or by $400,000, on the basis that fuel rates and power fuel rider rates had decreased. This means the mill-rate will increase for residential property owners by 0.25 cents and commercial, government and institutional properties by 1.75 cents.

"The amount we had to make up from the GN as well as the fact it costs money to run the city could have come in all different forms - raise the commercial rates even more," Stevenson said.

Someone with a residential property assessed at $300,000 will pay an additional $90 to $150 per year while someone with a commercial, government or institutional property will pay an additional $150 to $240 per year.

"It is tempting to raise the government rate when it was the government who cut the money."

Chief administrative officer John Hussey said the funds will be used to address wage, power and fuel increases. In November, power rates went up by six per cent. Qulliq Energy is planning another potential increase but it is not known when and by how much. An extra six per cent has been allotted in the budget for this.

"Nobody knows exactly what it will be ... we took a guess at numbers for both gas and electricity," Stevenson said.

Another bone of contention for drivers in the city is the condition of the roads.

The Government of Nunavut is chipping in $2.5 million this year for the completing of road paving started in 2008. The city is contributing $30,000 to develop a road maintenance plan.

Stevenson said ideally he would like to see all the roads paved but that is unrealistic.

"It's great that we put pavement down but anyone who drives in this town can see that even the pavement we put down, the stuff that's three years old, is already showing signs of being used," he said.

With unusual temperatures this winter and lots of ice on the roadways more money was spent on sand than usual. The Department of Public Works has set aside $200,000 for a vacuum truck designed to suck up sand already put down. The sand will be re-processed and then put down again.

The city has started fundraising for and discussing what services and facilities residents would like to see in a new recreational facility.

Stevenson said the money for that will have to come from other sources. The city is putting money into a reserve fund but that other parties will have to be involved.

"In the end, the amount of money we put in won't cover it," he said.

The bottom-line message coming from city hall was that residents will not notice many changes in how the city operates.

"City staff and council are committed to ensuring that the municipality continue to provide our citizens with the level and quality of services they enjoy," Mayor Madeleine Redfern said.