Minden Hills so far eyes 5.3 per cent levy hike

Minden Hills staff have been asked to use reserves to trim the draft budget down to a 5.3 per cent levy hike following budget talks Jan. 9.

Council will resume third draft budget deliberations Jan. 30.

Going into last Thursday, they were sitting on a 7.33 per cent increase.

The township is looking to borrow $2.6 million for roads and bridges. That includes reconstruction of the Sedgwick Road Bridge, rehabilitation of the Sunnybrook Bridge and the reconstruction of IGA Road.

In addition, there are planned works for Milburn, Bobcaygeon and Shetland roads.

Council also approved funding of $180,000 towards facility upgrades. Most of that money would be spent at the township office. CAO and treasurer Lorrie Blanchard said a redesign is required due to the relocation of the building/bylaw/planning (BBP) and clerk’s departments as a result of staffing changes. She said it includes flooring and repairs to the exterior fire escape. Redesign would also eliminate the need to exit the main entrance to access what is currently the BBP department.

The township is also going ahead with a septic re-inspection program that will require more staff. The public will be looking at a $240 municipal fee.

Users of water and wastewater will also see increases of five per cent and 12 per cent respectively.

The environmental budget factors in costs related to closing the Irondale landfill.

The 5.3 per cent increase sees the biggest jumps in the building department (37.24 per cent). This is largely due to an increase in staffing related to the septic re-inspection program and the hiring of a planning technician, as well as an additional building inspector/bylaw officer. The clerk’s department is showing a 20.29 per cent hike. Fire is going up 19.55 per cent. A deputy fire chief has been approved, but has not been hired yet. A new fire chief has been hired. Community services is projecting a 19.5 per cent jump. Public works is at a 3.71 per cent increase, and there are slight decreases in economic development, destination and marketing as well as treasury.

Coun. Pam Sayne said she remains concerned that growth is muted, at .77 per cent, because there isn’t enough investment in the township. “We need to have some strategy here to see an increase in that growth rate.”

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