CBRM budget-making at "impasse": Clarke

March 21, 2014

Watch the press conference video here.

SYDNEY, NS: Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke said today that Nova Scotia's second-largest municipality can not conclude its budget process next week as expected.

"At this point we are unable to balance the budget without tax increases, cuts or reduction of services because of a steady increase in costs added by the province," said Mayor Clarke. "We are at an impasse. We are postponing our budget deliberations. We need the provincial government's Municipal Affairs officials to be a serious partner as we move forward."


Some of the provincial costs that are adding to CBRM's budget pressures are:

- Paying $520,000 more to the provincial government for Education (the CBRM paid $12.2 million last year and is expected to pay $12.7 this year. Education is a provincial jurisdiction.)

- Receiving $317,000 less in equalization ($15.35 million down from $15.7 million. The CBRM now pays more money to the province than it receives in equalization.)

- Receiving $181,000 less from Nova Scotia Power for their grant in lieu of taxes.

- UARB mandated costs for fire hydrants increased by $568,000

- Solid Waste costs impacted by as much as $500,000 due to provincial solid waste policy changes and recycling fee issues.

- Collective agreements and arbitrated wages increase $1.8 million next year.

- Lost costs from the broken Memorandum of Understanding in 2011 adds $2.2 million for housing costs and $1.1 million for corrections as well, both provincial jurisdiction.

"In all, we are looking at somewhere between $4 million and up to $5 million in added cost pressures from the province that we can't afford," said Clarke.

The municipality's revenues are also lower than expected due to the impact of the assessment cap, a provincial program, growing at a rate of only 0.9% this year.

Mayor Clarke says this situation leaves no ability to fund capital projects out of the operating budget and no reserve funds for unforeseen costs as have been experienced in recent years with police investigations and extreme weather.