Minden Hills council is expected to pass its 2019 budget at its next council meeting following a public meeting and fourth draft on March 28.

The tax levy increase is currently sitting at 6.48 per cent.

“The residential rate, based on the current draft, would increase from $3.54 to $3.65 per 1,000 of assessment,” CAO/treasurer Lorrie Blanchard said in a written report.

She went on to provide a table outlining the municipal (only) tax impact on a residential and commercial property initially assessed at 300,000, which is the approximate mid-point average assessment for residential properties on and off water.

“A mid-range three per cent increase in ‘phased-in’ residential assessment would result in a $64.92 increase in taxes (municipal share only) or approximately $5.41 per month, and a five per cent increase in phased-in residential assessment would result in an $86.81 increase in taxes (municipal share only) or approximately $7.29 per month,” Blanchard said.

For commercial properties, the same formula would see increases of $96.25 ($8.02 per month) or $128.71 ($10.73 per month).

The County of Haliburton rate has been approved in principle and the township is awaiting the education rate.

Staff is further recommending an approximate five per cent increase in water and wastewater rates for 2019.

The tax levy increase dropped slightly from seven per cent during round three budget talks. Blanchard attributed it to $5,000 in building inspection fees that are no longer required, an extra $27,300 in OMPF funding, and more bank interest income and penalties on taxes. Insurance deductible was moved from one account to another (no net change), and $20K of arena heating costs were moved to reserves (no net change).

It was also confirmed the township will borrow $11,890,000 for the arena renewal project over 30 years with loan repayments. This number is exclusive of any available and successful loan applications or fundraising activities.

The current draft budget also includes a 7.61 per cent increase in wages and a 10.77 per cent increase in benefits versus the 2018 budget estimates.

Blanchard noted that landfill costs represent a large increase in costs, up 36 per cent, or $247,410. She said money will be spent on hazardous waste removal, seagull remediation, grading and cover bulldozing-related expenditures; the transportation of recyclable material, bin movements, and cardboard processing; contractual wage rate changes related to landfill attendants and transportation of non-recyclable material; shed and miscellaneous equipment rentals.

“You can see our primary focus is landfills, economic development and programs and the arena project,” Blanchard added of the overall 2019 budget.

Coun. Bob Carter stressed that while the levy is going up 6.48 per cent, the tax rate is only increasing by 3.02 per cent.

Coun. Pam Sayne said the public has been asking her about the state of Sunnybrook bridge repairs, potholes and boat launches. The Sunnybook bridge project has been shelved for this year, but there is talk of putting it in for the new Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP).

As for potholes, roads director Travel Wilson assured Sayne they are in the budget as part of regular maintenance.

Director of community services Make Coleman said his department is currently doing an inventory of boat launches and will bring a report back to council later this year.

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