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Common Council passes 2018 budget and sets sights on a sustainable Saint John


On December 11, 2017, The City’s 2018 general operating budget was passed by Common Council. Based on the commitment and priorities of Council, the City’s budget seeks to deliver the best value for services to Saint John taxpayers. The operating budget for 2018 is $152,613,133 with the tax rate held steady at $1.785.

“This is a legacy moment for this Council, to pass the budget today in anticipation for year two and three and set our City on a path to sustainability,” said City of Saint John Mayor Don Darling. “I am extremely proud of the work City staff have done to develop this innovative, strategic budget, and my colleagues for their fortitude and leadership to pass the budget.”

The City started the budget process very early on during the year in anticipation of a significant $4.8-million shortfall due to an imbalance in revenue growth and expenditures. The structural deficit was compounded by a reduction in the Provincial unconditional grant and the 2017 Provincial assessment freeze. 

Under provincial legislation, municipalities must submit a balanced annual operating budget and do not have the option of running an ongoing and accumulating operating deficit. With an estimated structural deficit of $6-million in 2018, the situation is projected to escalate to $14.4-million by 2022 if immediate action is not taken.  

“Doing nothing is not an option, and we can’t continue with the status quo. As unpopular as it may be, if we don’t deal with our financial challenges, they will continue to escalate,” said Mayor Darling. “I ran on a mandate of growth and fiscal responsibility and I believe getting our house in order is everyone’s responsibility.”

To support Council’s priority of fiscal responsibility, and to create a sustainable future for residents, staff have embarked on a strategic long-term financial plan that focuses on sustainability of revenues and service levels, reserves, asset management, debt management and performance monitoring and reporting. 

Over the next year, measures will be implemented to reduce expenditures, while minimizing impacts to service levels and employees. The focus will remain on efficient service delivery and continuous service improvements and savings. Through the continued implementation of the Roadmap for Smart Growth, the City will focus on creating long-term sustainability though job, tax-base and population growth.  

Council will also continue to work in partnership with the Province on a “new deal” for Saint John. Council has identified necessary reforms in property tax policy, regional service delivery, labour agreement arbitration practices and revenue generation in renewable energy as areas it wishes to further develop.  

On December 8, 2017, Mayor Darling received a letter from New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant that recognizes the fiscal challenges in Saint John and offers to assist with both short and long-term solutions that will address the City’s unique challenges and opportunities. 

“We remain optimistic that the Government of New Brunswick will work with us to create the legislative environment necessary to correct the fiscal challenges in Saint John,” said Darling.  

For more information on the City of Saint John 2018 budget: please click here.

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