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Aging infrastructure can’t be put off forever, staff warns

Les Filles d’Isabelle à Sturgeon Falls : 75 ans d’Unité, Amitié, Charité

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Council approves 5.74% tax hike

by Isabel Mosseler
Tribune


On April 15th, WN Council had their fifth budget meeting since February 23, concluding their lengthy deliberations with a 5.74% levy increase for 2019. This means a house assessed at the municipal average of $197,600 will see a $63.14 hike on their tax bill, to the tune of $2,089.71. That is down from the opening gambit presented on February 23rd of a 12.35% increase and dire warnings of the need to cover infrastructure expenses after years of lower tax increases. During two months of deliberations, municipal staff warned that low taxes do come at a cost year over year, as items get delayed or sidelined. The water/waste water rate increases by 2.4% in 2019, or an increase of $32.19 on the average home that receives these services. Solid waste disposal rests at a 3.91% increase, or an extra $10.10 for households with curbside pick-up. 

It quickly became apparent that the majority of council were in favour of going with the 5.74% increase, with Coun. Jeremy Seguin asking for a slightly larger amount to accommodate three projects – the sidewalk/bike path in Verner, the boat launch in River Valley, and a Youth Advisory Committee drawn from all of West Nipissing – which would have increased the levy to 5.9%. Coun. Yvon Duhaime, on the other hand, jockeyed for a lower rate by requesting that $100K be diverted from the General Surplus to the IPM as a one time expense rather than have those funds come from the general budget – reducing the levy to just over 5%. Both requests were denied by council, although Coun. Séguin’s requests were considered favourably, with the possibility of using different means of financing without increasing the levy, through adjustments to the Community Services expenditures and alternative sources of project funding. 

The three-hour session provided opportunity for mayor and council to review decisions, with Mayor Savage pointing out that budget deliberations determine the level of service constituents receive. Councillors generally conceded that the 5.74% increase was high, but as Coun. Léo Malette pointed out in his opening statement, “We are helping out a lot of people, the Food Bank, Filles d’Isabelle (etc)… 5.74% is logical in my books.”


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