Higher taxes, service fees in 2003 Iqaluit budget

City to spend $11.3 million on infrastructure next year

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

DENISE RIDEOUT

The City of Iqaluit will spend $11.3 million in 2003 to pave more streets, upgrade water and sewer services and put up new recreation facilities, but Iqaluit homeowners will help foot the bill by paying higher property taxes and water and sewer fees.

City council passed Iqaluit’s 2003 capital budget, along with its operating budget, at the Dec. 16 council session.

The budgets will see the city spend $11.3 million on capital projects and $14.5 million to pay for the city’s day-to-day operations.

In order to get that kind of revenue, the city says it had little choice but to raise taxes and utility fees.

Property taxes will go up 2.25 per cent in 2003 and water and sewer fees will see a five per cent hike.

For Iqaluit homeowners, the increases mean they will pay an additional $45 in property taxes next year and an extra $47.25 in utility fees.

The city said it’s simply too difficult to improve its water and sewage services at the current rate it charges homeowners. In fact, water and sewer services don’t even generate enough money to cover their costs.

“Putting together the 2003 budget was a very challenging task,” Iqaluit’s mayor, John Matthews, said in a press release. “The pressures of our growing city, and aging infrastructure required that we ask council to approve increases to taxes and utility fees.”

“Iqaluit’s council and staff are committed to keeping tax rates as low as possible and have taken every possible step to minimize the tax rate increase,” he added.

Most of the city’s $11.3 million capital budget will pay for key infrastructure projects that will help maintain a healthy water supply, improve road conditions and replace aging sewer lines.

The city is spending $3 million more on capital projects in 2003 than it did this year.

For 2003, the city has budgeted to spend $2.4 million on expanding its water treatment plant and $200,000 on upgrading the water and sewer mains. About $250,000 will go towards installing meters in homes and $120,000 worth of work will be done on the sewage lift and dump stations.

Iqaluit drivers will be happy to note the city will spend $1.5 million on paving roads.

As part of the 2003 capital budget, more recreation facilities will go up around town. The city plans to spend $75,000 to build a skateboard park and will put $65,000 towards playgrounds.

Other capital expenditures include $200,000 to develop a new cemetery and $10,000 to buy cages for the dog pound.

At its Dec. 16 meeting, city council also passed the 2003 operating budget.

The City of Iqaluit has a $15.6 million operating budget, of which $14.5 million will go towards the cost of the day-to-day operations of Iqaluit.

Iqaluit’s mayor described the operating budget as a “stay-the-course” budget.

Most of the revenue comes from property taxes and fees for water delivery and the collection of sewage and garbage from Iqaluit households.

A large amount of the expenditures will go towards running the water, sewer and garbage services. All together, the city’s public works department will spend $5.6 million in 2003.

The city will put $371,487 towards running its bylaw department and $1.4 million for emergency services.

Close to $2.6 million will go towards paying for the upkeep of Iqaluit’s recreation facilities.

Included in that is the cost of running the Arnaitok arena until at least 2004. Arnaitok, the city’s oldest skating rink, was scheduled to close this spring but residents lobbied city council to keep it open.

The city’s goal is to have corporate sponsors help pay for operating the arena after 2004.

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