Highlands East council approved of a 2019 draft budget which would see the municipal residential tax rate rise 3.56 per cent.
Council passed the budget at a March 12 council meeting.The $5.9 million draft budget features increased spending for capital projects across all departments totalling $1.9 million, $475,507 more than 2018.
“It’s an ambitious year,” chief administrative officer and treasurer Shannon Hunter said during a March 5 budget meeting. “Every department has major projects happening in 2019 if this budget is
The largest capital projects are in the roads department, with $615,000 allotted to rehabilitating Dyno Road and $544,207 for the second phase of road work at the Cardiff townsite. Other new expenses include $55,000 for this year’s building renovations, $50,000 for a facilities review, and $28,000 for an organizational review.
Councillors spoke positively of the budget and the number of included projects.
“I’m sure all of us would prefer to see the tax rate lower,” Coun. Suzanne Partridge said. “But I don’t think there’s anything to add on this budget besides the projects we’ve already agreed upon. So, I’m comfortable.”
Deputy mayor Cec Ryall agreed and complimented staff’s work.
“We try to keep the taxation dollars down to zero, we’re going to cut off our nose to spite our face. We’re going to pay for it somewhere,” Ryall said. “Everything you pay hurts but I think the value is there and I think we’re getting great value for our money. I think our taxpayers are getting great value.”
The budget highlights also indicate staffing changes, including a full-time bylaw enforcement officer, a new septic inspector and increased hours for the part-time economic development co-ordinator.
Hunter credited a high assessment growth of 4.16 per cent as helping to lower the tax increase.
The municipality is also drawing from reserves this year. Hunter said if all proposed projects are complete by the end of the year, the reserves will decrease from $4.263 million to $3.267 million.
“A lot of projects we’re working on this year, it’s amazing,” Mayor Dave Burton said March 5. “You guys still have time to look at (the budget) but I’m quite content with it.”
The tax percentage increase represents $16 per $100,000 assessment.