Minden Hills council will bring a projected 4.79 per cent tax hike to a public meeting April 27.
Council finalized its last draft of the budget at an April 20 meeting.
To get to the estimated figure, they further increased some fees and charges, by $60,000, to whittle the final draft down from 5.4 per cent. The township is looking to collect even more money now for compliance letters, fire calls and construction tipping fees.
Coun. Tammy McKelvey recommended the increased fees and charges, in an attempt to bring the levy down as she felt, “taxpayers are not going to be happy with five per cent.”
She also queried reductions in gravel resurfacing to further erode the tax hit. However, council left the roads spending intact from the last draft of the budget.
Finance director Greg Bedard noted council was putting $870,000 into reserves this year, but drawing more than $2 million. He cautioned, “our reserves are being used for well and good intentions this year for public works projects that we need to do on an urgent basis, however the continued draw on our reserves of this magnitude isn’t sustainable.”
But mayor Bob Carter said, “we have contributions to and from reserves this year. The net usage of those reserves is less than 15 per cent of our reserves going into extraordinary projects that absolutely need to be done. This is why we keep reserves. To be able to do them (projects). It’s a unique year, hopefully.”
Self-contained breathing apparatus, Brady Lake culverts, and Scotch Line landfill fill and closure were all shifted to reserve financing, from borrowing money, on April 6.
When McKelvey suggested reducing gravel coverage from four inches to two inches on some roads, director of public works Mike Timmins said he would not advise it. He said it would affect the longevity and life of roads.
Carter agreed council should not tell public works staff how to maintain roads but, “give them enough product so they can continue to work the product over the next number of years, so we don’t have to do this again.”
Deputy mayor Lisa Schell said 95 per cent of council complaints are about roads. “In the past, they’ve been neglected … based on money put into the budget … no one likes swallowing the 5.4 per cent, but if that means having our roads brought back to where they should be, I will support it.”
Council is borrowing about $3.5 million for work on Scotch Line and Bobcaygeon roads.
Coun. Pam Sayne said she hoped decisions being made now will help to lower tax rate increases in future.
In finalizing the last draft and bringing it to a public meeting, Carter said, “we need to get on with governing and all of the other projects in the municipality. We’re never going to make it (the budget) perfect.”
Go to the Minden Hills website for information on attending the meeting. However, people must pre-register by 8:30 a.m. April 27 if they want to make comment. The public can also watch the meeting live.