No increase in taxes in Collingwood
collingwood town hall
Earlier this year, Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson put forward a notice of motion asking staff to keep 2017 municipal tax increase below 2%.
Staff did one better and put forward a scenario with no increase.
With a budget of $81 million, $54.5 million goes to operating costs and another $26.5 million goes toward capital projects, while staff and department heads trimmed nearly $400,000 from early predictions.
Town debt also weighed heavily on the minds of council, and they were presented with an opportunity to spend more than $400,000 for an internal load for the Heritage Park Wellness Centre that never came to fruition.
“We have a strategic financial plan and the first policy council approved was accepting that the level of debt in the town was too high and that council had a target to reduce that debt significantly,” John Brown, town CAO, told council during the budget meeting. “Here is the unique opportunity in this budget there is room at present to pay off debt that has already been on our books. It is like paying off your credit card.”
Council agreed and the motion was carried.
Council did approve a number of items that were determined to be priorities, including spending more than $44,000 for the refined Collingwood Elvis Festival and increasing the Collingwood Public Library’s budget to purchase materials for its collection.
Council also agreed to a $10,000 traffic study to determine where crossing guards should be stationed.
With the changes in the relationship with PowerStream, council agreed to bring all IT services in house, which includes hiring staff and a manager. Council set aside $280,000 in a contingency fund.
Although the town will hold taxes to the 2016 level, it doesn’t mean homeowners get away scot-free.
The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation phased-in increases will raise taxes by more than $50 for a home worth $285,000. Collinwood’s budget report sets the average cost of a single-family home in 2014 at $349,879.
From the operating budget summary, general government expenditures will increase, with net expenditures of $5.3 million, and the fire protection budget increases to $4.7 million.
Environmental services is looking at a number of key projects including a sewer rehabilitation project, pumping station replacements, the Stewart Road reservoir and more rehabilitative and maintenance issues, at a cost of more than $17 million.
Parks, recreation and culture projects include a new skateboard park, a parks master plan, the development of a park in the Mountarincroft subdivision, and replacement doors at the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena.
The majority of funding for these projects comes from provincial and federal grants, and reserves.