Dysart et al council has trimmed some fat from its proposed 2022 budget, with a second draft proposing a 5.5 per cent tax levy increase for area ratepayers.

Municipal officials discussed the budget Jan. 14, removing several items that were included in the original document. Presented in December, the first draft included a tax increase of 7.56 per cent.

The new rate, presented before discussions began Jan. 14, is offset by around $130,000 in increased revenues and a decrease of $82,000 in operating and capital costs. Council would shave off an additional $35,000 through their later discussions.

Treasurer Barbara Swannell noted the proposed increase would see residential property owners pay an additional $16.35 per $100,000 of MPAC assessment in 2022, with commercial owners set to pay an extra $24.24 per $100,000 of assessment and industrial owners to pay a further $28.09 per $100,000 of assessment.

Despite the proposed increase, Swannell said Dysart still had, by far, the lowest municipal taxes in Haliburton County.

“The cost per $100,000 of assessment for residential property in Dysart was $297.44 in 2021. In Algonquin Highlands, at $344.10, the ratepayer is paying $36.66 more than if they lived in Dysart, or 12.3 per cent more,” Swannell said. “The trend continues in Minden Hills, who pay 29.1 per cent more. In Highlands East, residents pay 70.6 per cent more.

“A 5.5 per cent levy increase in 2022 still results in Dysart being the lowest tax rate within member municipalities in Haliburton County,” she added.

During the meeting, council signed off on hiring a new summer bylaw officer at an undetermined cost; to increase services at the Harcourt, Kennisis Lake and West Bay landfill sites ($6,133); increase volunteer firefighter pay by $2.50 per hour; and dish out approximately $70,000 in grants and donations to community organizations.

They decided against spending $10,000 on a new digital sign at the Haliburton welcome centre; said no to the Haliburton Highlands Museum hiring a summer employee at a cost of $11,100; and deferred decisions to hire new full-time staffers in the planning and parks and recreation departments at an annual cost north of $100,000.

In 2022, Dysart is projecting to spend just over $18.5 million. Municipal reserves sit at $3.6 million. Council will meet again to discuss the budget on Feb. 11.