• Jim Mosher

Sustainability, recreation focus of Dunnottar budget; new levies hit the pocketbook

Councillor Rosalyn Howard, clockwise from foreground, finance chair David Oberding and Mayor Rick Gamble listen to questions from the gallery.

Sustainable economic and environmental policy remains a keystone of Dunnottar council’s years-long focus, as evidenced in its current-year budget which sets aside allocations for equipment and sustainability reserves — which will combine to raise most of the about 0.9 mills added to the tax levy this year.

Village council unanimously approved its 2019 balanced budget plan March 27.

The effective mill rate rises to 15.298, up from the 14.4 mills levied in 2018, an increase of 0.898 mills or 6.24 per cent. Barring property assessment increases, taxes will increase by the percentage amount of the mill rate increase.

A home valued at $100,000, for instance, will be levied $688.41 this year compared to $648 last year. (There is a proviso. The example applies only to properties with stable assessment from 2017-2018. Portioned assessment rose to $80.18 million in 2018. That is the assessment upon which the 2019 tax levy is based. The portioned assessment was $79.44 million in 2017 for an increase this tax year of $436,860.)

The balanced budget will raise $1.836 million from net municipal taxation and grants in lieu of taxes, which is included in total revenue of of $2.196 million. Total revenue also includes other revenue of $270,750 and $90,000 transferred from reserves.

However the tax levy does not include the annual levy of $506 per lot for sewer pump-out services. That per-lot fee is unchanged from last year.

Deputy mayor David Oberding walked the gallery through a summary of spending changes this year, rather than parsing the budget line by line. This year marked Oberding’s thirteenth consecutive budget as council’s finance chair. However he emphasized that the budget was a product of input from all members of council.

“Council gets together, and we go over the budget line by line,” finance chair Oberding explained. “It normally takes us half a dozen meetings.”

The end product? “I feel good about it,” Oberding, who also serves as deputy mayor, said. “I think every year that we do this we’re very conscious of our responsibility to this community. I think we do a really good job of managing the assets of this community.”

Mayor Rick Gamble acknowledged that the budget will have an impact on property taxpayers. “In order to purchase new equipment that to keep the community flowing smoothly we had to [replenish reserves],” the mayor said. “We had to do it this year. But, as David mentioned in his presentation, next year being a reassessment year, we hope we can hold the line [next year]. We should be able to unless something unforeseen happens.”

The entire tax levy increase is due 0.498 mill commitment to the village’s equipment reserve, being built up in anticipation of the 2020 purchase of a front-end loader, pegged at $180,000; and 0.25 mills for sustainability initiatives.

The current-year budget also includes the purchase of a 2013 Ford Taurus for $3,000 for use by the bylaw enforcement officer and a new $30,000 half ton truck for the pubic works, both of which will come from the existing equipment reserve.

In other budget highlights:

* Improvements at the landfill, including hiring a seasonal worker to assist the landfill attendant. “This has been necessitated by the volume of users and the need to ensure that all users are using the landfill appropriately,” the budget presentation states. As well, two sea cans will be purchased for E-waste recycling and household hazardous waste to provide additional storage and keep the items out of the wastestream.

* New initiatives on the recreation front include Phase 1 of Linda Park Place and two shoreline sitting decks funded by the general fund. Mobi-Mats for Milne Beach, subject to grants approval, and playground equipment and improvements will be borne by the recreation reserve.

* A new reserve will be established to track an annual unconditional $37,000 grant from the province, announced in the provincial budget. The funding is guaranteed for five years.

* The budget presentation also notes that the education property tax credit will now only apply to the education portion of the tax bill. In the past, the excess of the rebate, which ranged up to a maximum of $700, could be applied to municipal taxes. Now, the credit only applies to the school tax levy.

Dunnottar councillors Jim Kotowich, left, and Bob Campbell join their colleagues in unanimously endorsing the current-year budget March 27.

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