MODL Passes 2019-2020 Budget

Posted on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 10:48 AM

The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg has approved $1-million to demolish the former Riverport and District Elementary School.

The municipality approved its 2019-20 budget Tuesday evening.

The school closed in 2011 and an agreement with the province saw the property revert back to the municipality.

Mayor Carolyn Bolivar-Getson says it's an issue that isn't going away.

"We have applied for some grant money which we're hoping may come through to help us with the clean-up, but we also have Centre Consolidtaed School that we will have to do something with as well and potentially we could have other schools."

Bolivar-Getson says they have tried to modify the agreement with the Department of Education but have been unsuccessful.

Other MODL budget highlights are listed below:

The 2019/20 Operating Budget in the Amount of $31,189,600                                                                                                                                                                           

The 2019/20 Capital Budget in the Amount of $14,576,200

The 2019/20 Residential Tax Rate of $0.81 per $100 of Assessment

The 2019/20 Commercial Tax Rate of $1.957 per $100 of Assessment

The 2019/20 Seasonal Commercial Tax Rate of $1.468 per $100 of Assessment

LaHave River Straight Pipe Replacement Project
The Municipality has replaced more than 80 straight pipes in the Wastewater Management District. Our goal is to make
the lower LaHave River straight pipe free by 2023.

The Municipality has been a leader in trying to get the Province to change environmental regulations so that straight
pipes can be eliminated once and for all. We will continue to advocate for point of sale legislation which would, in the
long term, replace all straight pipes with appropriate septic systems.

Flood Mitigation
MODL now has completed LIDAR data for the entire Municipality, and is in the process of converting the data into
elevation maps showing floodplains for a range of storms.

The Province has indicated that municipalities will be required to have land-use planning in place across the entire
Municipality in the near future, though specific requirements with respect to what must be included in the bylaw is not
currently available

The floodplain mapping will be necessary to have an informed discussion on the type of development controls in a new
municipal-wide Land Use By-Law, and what is an appropriate level of planning for Lunenburg County.

Litter Cleanup Program
The Municipality has set aside $10,000 towards a Litter Clean Up Grant for groups and individuals.

Clean Energy Financing Program
The Municipality will continue to offer financing for energy efficiency and cleaner energy retrofits. The program is
designed to ensure residents save as much or more in energy and heating expenses than the cost of the retrofit loan,
which is paid back over a 10-year period. For more information visit www.CleanEnergyFinancing.ca

Five-Year Financial Strategy
The Municipality has accepted a modified Debt Affordability Model as its Five-Year Financial Strategy.

The development of a Five-Year Financial Strategy gives Council the ability to see how current and planned projects affect
the Municipal budget and in turn, the tax rate, going forward. It gives Council a solid model to be used as a budgeting tool
and is focused on Council’s Financial Plan to be debt free by 2021 while maintaining stable tax rates.

No Change in Sewer Tax Rate
Sewer rates remain unchanged from last year when they were reduced by $0.02 per $100 in assessed value.
Maintain Tax Rate

Residential and commercial tax rates remain constant in this budget.

Removing financial barriers for children and youth
Continue to contribute to Positive Recreation Opportunities for Kids (PRO Kids). This program strives to remove financial
barriers to ensure every child and youth has an opportunity to participate in sport, recreation and cultural activities in
the Municipality.

Property Tax Rebate for Low Income Households
The Municipality increased the property tax rebate to up to $500 for property owners who have a total household
income under $29,999.  An application must be completed to qualify for the rebate. Please call (902) 541-1348 or visit
modl.ca to get the application. The application deadline is August 1, 2019.

Tick Awareness and Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease is a growing problem in Lunenburg County. The Municipality has committed to funding and working in
partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada on a three-year bait station research project, and with Nova Scotia
Public Health on an educational campaign.  

Open Space Strategic Plan
Continue to implement the Open Space Strategic Plan by investing in our parks, including River Ridge Common.

Council received the Sherbrooke Lake Park concept plan, which will enable Council to develop the park in phases.

Council continues to aggressively pursue expansions to the network of public parks and trails. The proposed 2019/20
budget includes funding for trails and active transportation, as well as $320,000 for construction in the lower portion of
River Ridge Common. The Sherbrooke Lake Water Quality report has been received by Council, and testing on the lake
will continue in 2019/20. A concept plan has been approved by Council.

Active Transportation
We will continue to provide support to the six rails to trails groups, ATV clubs and the Lunenburg County Mountain Bike
Association. A focus will be on developing trails that provides connectivity to other trails, recreation facilities and
amenities such as gas stations, restaurants and hotels, parks and to other communities.  

Fire Services Recruitment and Retention
Volunteers are the backbone of our fire service, and recruiting and retaining active volunteers is a significant challenge
for our Fire Service. Council has included $58,800 in funding for the implementation of recruiting and retention tactics,
which is on track to be implemented in 2019/2020.  

Accessibility
The Province has passed accessibility legislation which will create higher standards for accessibility for all public
facilities, websites and other services. The legislation requires municipalities to establish accessibility committees with
expertise and at large members representing communities with different accessibility requirements.  MODL successfully
led the creation of a county-wide committee, to make best use of resources and ensure we are able to adequately
populate and support the committee. Partner units are in the process of nominating members, and staff will remain
engaged as implementation of the Act begins.  

A new, fully accessible Municipal Services building will be constructed on municipally-owned land at Osprey Village, and
will cost $7.2 million to construct. Previous and current Councils have set funds aside for this project for many years,
which means the Municipality will not incur debt or raise taxes to build the new Municipal Services building. The
Municipality continues to be on track to be debt-free by 2021.

Internet  
Council is pursuing multiple avenues for expanding internet service, with a total investment of $3,791,000 expected
over the next two years, affecting up to 2,000 residents:

o One project is a fibre expansion that will see approximately $1.48 million invested in the Municipality, with a
municipal share of $233,486 in the work being done.  

o One project with TNC Wireless and the Federal Government will bring a new uncapped fixed wireless Internet
solution to the northern areas of the Municipality. Of the $2.15 million total program cost, the Municipality is
contributing up to $193,857.

o Two new Internet towers will provide fixed wireless internet services for Big Tancook Island, and for areas
surrounding the Lunenburg Regional Community Recycling Facility. The Municipality is contributing $80,410.  

o Continuing to develop relationships with Develop Nova Scotia and possible Internet Service Providers who have
interest in expanding in Lunenburg County.

Rural roads
The Municipality recognizes the importance of good roads to our citizens and has identified targeted road
improvements chosen to leverage provincial investment.

The proposed 2019/20 budget includes $1.1 million in funding for paving of cost-shared provincial roads, should
provincial approval be granted.  

Council has reviewed the existing petition bylaws and staff are preparing an options report on revisions that will make
passing petitions easier for residents. In conjunction with this policy work, engineering staff are completing assessments
and preparing pre-design work for possible upgrade and paving projects on existing municipal roads in the 2020
construction season.

Tourism
The Municipality has increased the promotion and awareness of the Municipality’s tourism sector with improvements
to the Lunenburg Region website, upgrades to the Agri-Tour and Lunenburg Region maps, new online mapping project
and Highway 103 signage.

Investment Attraction
The Municipality is moving into the fourth year of the Investment Attraction Strategy that has seen a significant increase
in the number of inquiries from both small businesses and new residents interested in moving to the Municipality.

Reported by: Nick Yorston
 
Twitter: @NickYorston
 
E-mail: [email protected]