Dysart et al ratepayers will be looking at about a 3.65 per cent increase on the municipal levy after a second round of budget talks Jan. 10. It’s expected the township will pass its 2020 budget when it meets Jan. 28.
Treasurer Barbara Swannell said the increase equates to $10.36 per $100,000 of assessment for residential, $15.36 for commercial and $17.80 for industrial.
With just over one per cent new growth, residential ratepayers are 95 per cent on the hook for tax dollars in the town.
Swannell added they’re waiting on the County’s final number, while an early draft is predicting a five per cent decrease for education rates.
Some of the changes from the first draft include $53,000 to do work on Highland and York Streets and Maple Avenue. Mayor Andrea Roberts asked for the money, saying there are “several dreadful problems.” Overall, there is just over $1 million in roads reconstruction in the budget.
Council also approved spending $40,000 to repair the flat roof at the A.J. LaRue Arena. The levy will raise $25,000 of that. Recreation coordinator Andrea Mueller said there is no membrane and buckets are catching leaks.
Roberts also asked councillors to put $10,000 into the kitchen on the second floor of the arena. When Coun. John Smith queried that, since council is planning a future multi-use recreation centre, Roberts said it was a Band-Aid solution to mitigate against a disaster. Coun. Larry Clarke said the township had to maintain its facilities in a useable form.
Council also approved a new parking pay machine in the medical centre building. It will accept debit and credit cards. Fees will be: free for the first 15 minutes; $3 for the first two hours; $1 an hour every hour after that to a maximum of $5 day. Coun. Walt McKechnie argued it was too much for seniors and would have preferred a flat rate of $3 a day.
However, bylaw enforcement officer Kristen Boylan said people can now get parking receipts and put those towards income tax. Roberts said $5 a day was far below what most medical centres charge. She added the township needs to recover costs for building maintenance.
There’s also a few new fees in planning for minor variances, site severances, compliance letters and severance proposals.
Smith said he was worried that not enough money is being spent on roads.
“Our ratepayers told us we have to spend more on roads.” Citing a roads software report stating that if the township maintained roads spending at $1.3m annually, the rate of roads classified as poor will double from 18.5 per cent in 2019 to 46.6 per cent in 2021, Smith said what was being presented was unacceptable.
He wanted $200,000 in unallocated roads spending doubled to $400,000, with money taken from other parts of the budget, such as the museum and town docks. However, he did not have the support of council.
McKechnie said he was tired of being lectured by Smith, saying Dysart et al relies on its town docks for its tourism trade. He added the township is filled with roads that were originally built for cottagers using logs and rocks. He said it would require “a very large sum” of money to fix the roads system.
Roberts added that budget deliberations required consensus. “We’re not here to grandstand and make speeches,” she said.
A frustrated Smith asked if he could not raise what he perceives to be council misplaced priorities at budget time, when could he raise them. Robert told Smith he wasn’t the only one who thought roads were important, which is why the township has an infrastructure committee, asset management plan, and has purchased roads evaluation software.