Minden Hills will proceed to a public meeting Feb. 13 after essentially passing its 2020 budget Jan. 30 – with a 5.3 per cent levy increase.

During third draft budget deliberations last Thursday, roads continued to be a major part of the talks.

The township is planning to borrow about $2 million for some major projects. They include: the Sunnybrook Bridge ($400k), Sedgwick Road Bridge ($160k share, should they receive successful funding), Millburn Road Bridge wearing surface ($10k), 0.9km of Bobcaygeon Road ($775k). Wilson said the other projects include the Shetland Road drainage project ($230k) and IGA Road ($375k).

While the township is debenturing for roads for the first time, Wilson said the overall roads budget is still down nearly $170,000 from 2019, which he called “a sad day for roads” in Minden Hills.

He further said there was a “pile of money coming out of reserves.” He added while the debenture does allow the township to complete multiple projects, “the annual debenture payment could have a negative impact on future budgets.” He said an example would be a new waste facility location for Scotch Line, which could cost between $1-2 million. He said in the absence of other funding, it too would need to be borrowed.

Also approved was 35.32km of mechanical brushing. This will be done on Bacon, Bethel, Claude Brown, Conway, Devils Lake, Plantation, Queen’s Line and Scotch Line roads. He noted it was less than proposed in the second round.

Receiving slurry seal and a minor rehabilitation are: Hunter Creek, Spar Lake and Hospitality roads, along with Spring Valley, County, Plantation, and Fleming roads.

He noted many projects remain off of the books, including the remainder of Bobcaygeon Road, Blairhampton Road, Peterson Road, village streets, Scotch Line and Davis Lake Road, and brushing of Irondale Road, Salerno Lake Road and Beer Lake Road.

“Although funds were found through the MMAH grant, 2018 Surplus, without those funds the Roads Department received a 0% increase from 2018 to 2019. 0% adjustments are often believed to be “status quo”; however, with ever increasing costs it results in a negative performance (going backwards, not stabilized),” Wilson concluded.

Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell said she gets called mostly about roads. “Is there anything else in there we can grab onto so as not to fall behind the eight ball on roads?” she asked.

“I’ve sat here for 14 years and I don’t want us to go backwards. It’s the one thing people see that their taxes go towards.”

There was some talk of upping the debenture to put more money into brushing but Coun. Bob Carter remarked, “no matter what money we spend, it’s going to end up as taxation.”

Under the environment department, the budget also paves for the way for the closing of the Irondale landfill. However, Coun. Jean Neville said she still wants a formal resolution to discussions with Highlands East about that township’s use of the landfill.

There are also plans to close all landfills on Wednesdays in winter, reopening them on Thursday. The rationale is to allow training since the township hopes to eventually bring the service in-house. Wilson said if council wanted to keep one open, he’d suggest Ingoldsby, between 2-5 p.m. Wednesday, then closed Thursday.

Carter asked it be a seasonal trial with a report back to council.

Users of the Lutterworth water system will see an increase of five per cent, or about $55 per user.

What it means for you

• A mid-range three per cent increase in “phased-in” residential assessment would result in a $57.08 increase in taxes – municipal share only; or approximately $4.76 per month.

• A five per cent increase in “phasedin” residential assessment would result in a $79.44 increase in taxes – municipal share only; or approximately $6.62 per month.

• A mid-range three per cent increase in “phased-in” commercial assessment would result in a $68.05 increase in taxes – municipal share only; or approximately $7.05 per month.

• A five per cent increase in “phasedin” commercial assessment would result in a $84.63 increase in taxes – municipal share only; or approximately $9.82 per month.

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