AH ratepayers looking at 7.57 per cent increase
|By Jennifer Hughey - Contributing Writer | February 23, 2017|
After nearly two days of deliberations, the municipality of Algonquin Highlands (AH) has made resolutions on its 2017 revenues and expenditures.
Angie Bird, the township’s chief administrative officer, confirmed by email that council finished the Feb. 16 regular meeting having agreed on its tax levy increases for the year ahead.
Treasurer and deputy-clerk Tammy McKelvey provided council with a detailed draft budget for review and one by one, each department gave its forecasts.
“OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) alone was five per cent,” Reeve Carol Moffatt posted to social media hours after council finished deliberations. It’s 5.05 per cent to be exact, making their expenditure jump from $677,428 and change to about $40,000 shy of a million dollars.
Moffatt and councillors met at the table for most of the day Feb. 15, where they discussed things like the money budgeted for a new clerk position, ongoing construction at their North Shore Road office and the next steps regarding a septage lagoon expansion.
Bird ultimately verified the assessment growth will be 0.53 per cent and the levy increase sits at 2.18 per cent. When you add the OPP, that’s a total levy increase of 7.7 per cent.
But what does that mean for a taxpayer?
Reported last week, the 2016 Census population and dwelling numbers stated that AH’s population has increased by 7.5 per cent from 2,186 to 2,351. The township is growing and the budget is accounting for that.
Moffatt told the public that for every one per cent, residents should understand that’s an approximate $42,000 increase. McKelvey verified by email that for every $100,000 in residential property assessment, a residential taxpayer should expect an increase of $21.62 annually and policing alone accounted for more than $14 of that.
“This year’s budget was a bit hard-won,” Moffatt posted, adding it provides for what she calls a nice balance of projects and progress, and thanked staff and fellow council members for working through some challenging decisions.
A few of those challenges were the bigger spends they had set aside for this calendar year.
One of the largest sums discussed was the financing options for the desired implementation of a septic re-inspection program. Council decided it would allocate funding for consultant services and education this year and to “put boots on the ground in 2018”, which helped the overall picture.
The construction and rehabilitation of the North Shore Road municipal office and its parking lots required an additional $115,000 to be taken from reserves to finish the job, after the original contractor defaulted on the job last summer.
Council has also added funds for the installation of solar panels and a UV purification system at the new public works garage in Dorset. This is on top of a new well dug after water from the first well was unusable due to high sodium levels. Staff also discovered water at the community hall in Dorset had a high iron level, so a system will be added there as well.
Water seemed to be a point of contention, as Moffatt was also surprised to learn the municipal office building didn’t have potable drinking water. So, council decided to budget money outside of its original number to pay for an additional UV system on top of the others already budgeted for.
In total, AH took $185,000 from reserves for this year’s budget.
The township is expected adopt the budget at its March 9 regular meeting.
JENNIFER HUGHEY is a contributing writer for The Highlander.