The Town’s Budget Process is Underway!

Presentation1 Page 1The 2018/19 Budget Process began on November 7, 2017 with a goal of approving a balanced budget on March 20, 2018 at the regularly scheduled Town Council meeting.  We will keep this page updated with information and key decisions following Committee of the Whole and Town Council meetings from now until March 20, 2018.

Join us in person or on Facebook Live for our Committee of the Whole and Town Council meetings to learn more about the Town’s Operating and Capital Budgets. Click here for dates and times!

Use the menu below to navigate each meeting, view agenda packages, presentations and key changes. 

November 7, 2017, Committee of the Whole

January 16, 2018, Special Committee of the Whole

February 6, 2018, Committee of the Whole

March 6, 2018, Committee of the Whole

March 20, 2018, Town Council 

*View the March 20, 2018 Town Council Agenda Package for more budget information!

March 6, 2018, Committee of the Whole

On February 6, 2018 Council provided direction to staff to add 1 cent to the residential and commercial tax rates to balance the budget. The 1 cent increase still meets Council’s direction to limit the average increase in property taxes to less than cost of living.

Changes from Version 2 to Version 3


  • Property Taxes – increased by $42,700
    • 1 cent change in residential and commercial tax rate
    • Equates to increase less than COLA which is 1.1%
    • Average increase for 88% of properties is 0.58%
  • Sale of Service for Planning – increased by $33,000 
    • Covers a full year based on most recent input from Windsor
    • Risk is limited in 2018/19 but revenue will likely be nil in 2019/20


  • Valley Waste Resource Management – decreased by $20,000
    • The VWRM Board and staff worked with regional CAO’s to review draft budget and identified savings.
  • Kings Transit Authority – decreased by $7,300
    • Removed allowance for potential deficit operation
    • Sundry reduction of $2,300 was also included to recognize that a 12% increase is not likely to be acceptable to partners.
  • Education – increased by $85,500
    • Unexpected result of change in draft student ratio
    • Student numbers need to be verified/confirmed but this won’t happen until later in the year
  • Grants to Organization, Landmark East – decreased by $50,000
    • As per Council direction in February this item was removed from the 2018/19 budget pending additional information from staff.

Operating Reserves

  • Use of Reserves, Landmark – decreased by $50,000
    • Set aside pending decision later in the year
  • Use of Reserves, MPS Review – increased by $20,000
    • A portion of contracted services in the Planning Department is intended for the MPS Review 

Water Utility Budget

  • Shows overall small surplus over the next three years.
  • Does not have to be balanced – the UARB allows a rate of return
  • Partially informed from Water Rate Study being drafted
  • Generally fewer decision points for Council compared to Town Budget

Not in Current Version 3 of Draft Budget

  • Additional training dollars recognizing added FTE positions (Corporate Services and Public Works)
  • Added resources for Parking Enforcement to build on the success of recent enforcement/education efforts
  • No funding for Summer Music Series – 2017/18 was funded by grants. May be able to fit within budget for Wolfville 125.
  • No additional funding for Volunteer Appreciation event
  • No funding for any potential regional governance study/review/municipal modernization
  • No additional allowance in Legislative/Mayor’s office for small grants/advertising outside of Policy
  • No allowance to increase maximum funding through Strategic Partnership Program
  • No Funding for AVCC Tourism request
  • No Funding to move skateboard park – may have to be a mid-year decision
  • Potential impact of location and support needed for community over request

Version 3 Risks

  • Continued use of Operating Reserves reduces the amount available for needed capital funding and availability for new/unidentified future projects.
  • Is the Town living within its means?
  • Four-year Operating Budget Projections show annual losses.
  • Long-term capital funding requirement not yet at required level.

Council did provide direction to staff to add $4,000 to fund the AVCC Tourism Request. Options will be brought to the March 20th Council meeting.

Meeting Agends, Audio and Minutes can be found here.


February 6, 2018, Committee of the Whole

Based on the direction from Council at the January 16 Special COW and adjusted budget estimates, the budget shortfall has gone from $290,000 down to $37,500.

Summary of changes to reduce the shortfall

Revenue Changes:

  • Deed Transfer Tax – increased by $40,000
    • Brings the budget to $340,000 (5 year average)
    • There is risk if the actual deed transfer drops to $250,000
  • Sale of Service, Planning & Building Official – increased by $11,000
    • Covers the 1st quarter of service only
    • There is risk to include the limited revenue in 2018/19 when it will likely be nil in 2019/20. 
  • Interest on Tax Arrears – increased by $10,000
    • Recognizes that tax arrears have increased, resulting in more interest
    • There is risk that this will decrease as the issue of arrears is addressed
  • Sewer RatesAdjusted to ensure debt repayment is covered

Expenditure Changes

  • Seasonal Wages to add a summer student in Public Works – increased by $12,000 
    • Should assist in addressing a number of smaller tasks that crews do not always have time to complete 
    • There is risk without the additional resources the department is likely to be stretched thin and affect service levels
  • Miscellaneous Legislative – decreased by $5,000
    • Reduces the dollars available for small one off requested experienced over the years
    • There is rick that actual spending has exceeded the budget in the last two years

Use of Operating Reserves

Key questions to ask when considering the use of operating reserves:

  • Is it being used for a specific project/initiative?
  • Is the use for a one time/non-recurring event – i.e. not part of annual operations?
  • Does the importance of the proposed use exceed the importance of potential future use for other issues – (i.e. capital funding)?

Proposed Uses:

  • FCM Conference, $10,000
    • Reserves used to cover budget increase need to allow all members of Council to attend FCM in Halifax as per the Town’s Council Professional Development Policy.
    • This line item (professional development) would return to normalized levels in fiscal 2019/20
  • CAO/Corporate Services Programing Costs, $10,000
    • Relates to a pilot project/initiative from the Alcohol Harms Working GroupIf successful then this may become part of annual budgets across a number of departments
  • Grants to Organizations – Landmark East, $50,000
    • Relates to Landmark East School referred to budget process by COW
    • Council directed staff not to include this item in draft 4 of the Operating Budget
  • Grants to Organizations – Acadia, $35,000
    • The Town and Acadia continue to work on a Partnership Agreement
    • The grant for 2018/19 would assist with further research/data needed to inform the decisions required by Acadia and the Town before a long-term funding agreement would be finalized
    • The outcome could result in an annual grant that would have to be absorbed into the Town’s budget without benefit of reserve funding in the future.
  • Operating Equipment/Supplies – Parks, $28,800
    • Relates to 3 sets of bleachers, a storage container and wharf repairs (carried forward from 2017/18)
    • Although each item is specific and non-recurring in nature, there may be a growing pressure for similar expenditures in future years
  • Wolfville 125 – Festivals & Events, $30,000
    • Covers additional costs related to Wolfville 125 celebrations – i.e. seasonal wages, advertising, additional event programming, enhanced Mud Creek Days
    • Although this is a one-time event, there is a growing expectation for more/bigger events. For example, in 2017/18 Canada 150 events increased the previously reduced Festival & Events budget as decided by Council
  • New Banners – Festivals & Events, $8,000
    • Relates to new pole banners for events to add to/replace existing inventory

NOT Included in V2

  • Additional training dollars recognizing added Full-Time Equivalent positions (Corporate Services and Public Works)
  • Added resources for Parking Enforcement to build on the success of recent enforcement/education efforts
  • No funding for a Summer Music Series – 2017/18 series was funded by Canada 150 grants
  • No additional funding for Volunteer Appreciation event
  • No funding for any potential regional governance study/review
  • No revenue adjustment re: Cost of Living AdjustmentCost of Living Adjustment/Ceiling

Council sets tax rates to cumulative tax roll (to achieve overall COLA increase) NOT individual properties (results vary from property to property).The struggle exists because Councillor’s hear from individuals, and more likely the owners with the higher tax dollar impact, not those with tax dollar savings.

Taxable Assessment (TA) x Tax Rate (TR) = Property Owners Tax Bill (T$)

*COLA is experienced through Tax Bill NOT through the TA or TR

Actual 2018 Assessment Roll Results

Assessment Roll Results

2018 - Assumption 2017 Roll Increased by COLA Which Was 1.1% for 2017

Assumption 1.1

  • To achieve COLA increase to budgeted tax revenues requires an additional $54,300.
  • “TA” can’t be changed – PVSC sets values
  • “TR” can be adjusted – Council sets rates“TR” increase of 1.25 cents would achieve overall COLA

Assumption 1.1 2

Increase needed approximates 1 cent on tax rate

Eligible and not eligible properties

For the 45% (717 accounts) whose property assessments qualified for CAP (Per $100,000 of Taxable Assessment)

2017/18 CAP increase at 0.9% 2018/19
$100,000   $100,900
*1.45/'00   *1.46/'00
$1,459   $1,473
  • Increase of $23 per $100,000 of taxable assessed value
  • 45% of properties have this impact
  • 44% have a smaller increase or an actual decrease

Council directed staff to add one cent to the residential and commercial tax rates for version 3.

No formal motion is made at this stage.  Staff is continuing to seek consensus from Council.

Meeting Agends, Audio and Minutes can be found here.

*Minutes are approved at the next Committee of the Whole meeting


January 16, 2018, Special Committee of the Whole

The Special COW in January is the first time the draft Operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year is presented to Council. Below is a highlight of information presented:

  • Draft Town Operating Budget V1 is NOT a balanced budget; short fall of $290,000
  • Options to reach a balanced budget may include a tax increases and/or other funding (possibly reserves) and/or expenditure cuts.
  • This is only draft one and there is still time to make changes – 2 more months!

High Level View of Changes from 2017/18 Budget


  • Non-property Tax Reviews has decreased by $59,600
    • The current draft assumes loss of Planning/DO/Building Inspection sale of services to Town of Windsor
  • Transfers from Operating Reserves has decreased by $76,100
    • Current draft assumes reserves used only for enhanced mill/pave at $60,000 and a Term Staff position in Planning for the MPS at $49,300.
    • Previous year reserves budgeted for the Mona Parsons Project, Wharf Repairs, MPS Graphic Design, MPS contract consultants and the balance of funds required for Wolfville School Playground grant.

*Operating Reserves may be considered for projects that are one-time costs to the Town that are important in the


  • Salary Wages have increased by $45,400
    • Increase includes Cost of Living Allowance, Merit, and Collective Agreement. It does not include additional staff position.
      Insurance Expense increased by $15,400
    • This is to correct an error in previous year budget and allow for increase in premium costs generally resulting from claims history last couple of years.
  • Regional Services Partner costs increased by a total of $63,000
    • Valley Waste Regional Management is currently estimated at $45,500 higher than 2017/18
    • Regional Housing estimated at $10,000 higher to reflect higher than expected 2016/17 deficit.
  • Capital Program has increased by $15,900
    • This increase reflects Council’s commitment to grow the capital funding by 1% per year for the next four years. It will increase to 2.5% per year for the next six years after that.

Impact on taxpayer if the rate is left unchanged

All ratepayers (residential & commercial)

  • Overall 1.96%
    • Excluding new construction/reno 0.11%
  • Residential 1.37%
    • Excluding new construction 0.13%
  • Commercial 4.88%
    • Excluding new construction -0.02%

In November, Council gave direction to Staff to come back with a draft budget that showed a tax increase at no more than the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for the past year. In theory this equated to keeping the tax rate unchanged and allow the provincial CAP % to provide the increase in revenues equal to COLA. However, the 2018 Assessment Roll has a large number of properties that did not have increase that even reached the CAP % of 0.9%. Therefore, Property Tax Increase does not equal Cost of Living Adjustment if the Tax Rate is left unchanged.

Highlights of the 2018 Assessment Roll are below:

89% of the 2018 Assessment Roll has less than a 1% increase in taxable assessment

  • 45% of the Assessment Roll qualified for CAP (0.9% increase)
  • 16% of the Assessment Roll showed no change in taxable assessment
  • 22% of the Assessment Roll showed a decrease in taxable assessment

Impact of a 1 Cent Increase

84% of existing tax base would have a tax increase of less than 1.6%

  • 46% of existing tax base would have a tax increase of less than 1.5%
  • 20% of exiting tax base would have no tax increase of decrease
  • 17% of the existing tax based would still have a decrease

Overall 1 cent would generate $42,800 of revenue

  • 1 cent on the residential rate generates $39,400
  • 1 cent on the commercial rate generates $3,400

*In 2017/18 1 cent was added to the Residential Rate only.

Operating Expenditures up $247,400 overall

  • Salary & wages (permanent and seasonal), increase $122,500
    (including related benefit costs)
  • Contracted Services $110,400
    (includes $60,000 for additional mill/pave on Main St & >$21,800 RCMP)
  • Operational Equip/Supplies $62,600
    (includes Wharf Repairs, Mona Parsons Project, Wayfinding)
  • Stipends/Honorariums $21,600

Items not yet included in the Version 1 draft:

  • • Landmark East and Wolfville School one time capital requests - $200,000
  •  Upward Pressure on Grants to Organizations Policy re: Strategic Partners category
    • Wolfville Historical Society
    • Devour
  • Recreation Study – joint initiative with other municipal units
  • Other costs – Municipal units in Kings Co. appear to have renewed momentum on common topics, could mean new costs for regional initiatives
  • Any savings IF Wolfville pulls out of the REN as per notice given a year ago

No formal motion is made at this stage. Staff is continuing to seek consensus from Council.

Direction from the January Special COW meeting:

  • Identify possible initiatives/expenditures that fit with the use of Operating Reserves
  • Review revenue section for possible change in estimates or previously omitted revenues
  • Identify possible expenditures that could be reduced/eliminated or moved to a future year

November 7, 2017, Committee of the Whole

The following information was presented for discussion:

Taxable Assessments


  • preliminary PVSC data will not be available until December
  • new construction, average market value increase, impact of CAP not yet available
  • CAP % not available, currently estimate 1.2% – 1.5% (previous year was 1.4%)


  • Preliminary PVSC data not available until December

Inflation/Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)/CPI

  • As noted for assessments, provincial CAPPED Assessment Program tied to October over October comparison (expected to = 1.4%)
  • Average COLA change to end of September = 1.2%

Provincial Financial Indicators (selected highlights).

  • Residential Tax Effort, maintained rank 18th out of 27 Towns (2015/16 data)
  • Debt Service ratio 5.9% – 9th best in province (’15/16 data)
  • 5 Year Capital Purchases – 4th best provincial rank
  • 5 Year Transfer to Capital Reserves – top rank

Capital Budget Information

The draft Capital Investment Plan (CIP) and related Project Charters can be viewed in the November 7, 2017 Committee of the Whole agenda package.

The first draft of the CIP presented to Council included the following projects in Year 1 (2018/19):

  • Community Development & Public Works Building Fire Safety and Accessibility Ugrades
  • Fire Pumper Truck Replacement
  • Gaspereau Avenue Storm
  • Kent Avenue (Main to Queen)
  • Shoreline Protection
  • East End Gateway Design
  • Evangeline Park
  • Nature Preserve Dam - engineering
  • Tennis Court Resurfacing

Not included in the list above is general equipment/upgrades and engineering costs that are consistent year over year.

No formal motion is made at this stage. Staff is seeking consensus from members of Council on overall budget goals for the 2018/19 Operating and Capital Budgets (Town and Water Utility).

Operating Budget

Council's direction to staff as they prepare the first draft of the Operating Budget is keep any tax increase within the Cost of Living (i.e. hold the tax rate).

Meeting Agends, Audio and Minutes can be found here.