Dysart votes for a 3.84% tax hike

By Darren Lum
Ratepayers of Dysart et al will see a 3.84% tax increase on their next municipal tax bill after council’s vote at the special meeting on Friday, February 11, which was held virtually.
That’s almost half of the 7.5% proposed in December and less than the 4.22% increase achieved after the second draft budget.

The decrease in the tax levy from 4.22% to 3.84% was achieved after Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy pitched the idea of ​​raising $40,000 from the Canada Community Build grant, which will partially fund the sidewalk project in $80,000 on Maple Avenue, starting at Park Street and ending at the Gardens of Haliburton Retirement Home. This now increases the Community Build Fund from $290,000 to $250,000.
Kennedy said this action is in the best interests of taxpayers and was taken knowing that a “substantial surplus” is expected in 2021, which has yet to be finalized.
“So I still think we’re contributing a lot to our reserves and we have an additional asset management plan of $170,000 a year plus the infrastructure increase. So I think we’re on the right track,” Kennedy said. Whether that would be seen as a positive seen with an audit lens in a year or two, he wasn’t sure.
“But I think we are on the right track to introduce an increase in our reserves. I’m doing this knowing full well that it’s a barrier to building reserves, but I think right now it’s a benefit to our taxpayers to try to reduce our impact as much as possible this year.” said Kennedy.

With a 3.84% increase, this means ratepayers will pay $11.41 more per $100,000 of assessment for residential properties, $16.92 per $100,000 for commercial properties and $19.60 per $100,000 for industrial properties. A 1% levy increase is equivalent to approximately $101,000 in revenue.
The tax base is made up of 95% residences and the balance of 5% commercial and industrial taxpayers.
“very frugally” with 38.4% of the assessment for the county. Mayor Andrea Roberts said for context that Haliburton County will see a 3.22% increase in levies and that the Education Tax Levy will see no increase or decrease.
The vote in favor of the 3.84% tax levy was not unanimous. At 5-2, advisers Walt McKechnie and John Smith were both looking for a less than 3% raise.
They asked whether to withdraw $100,000 from the reserves for a $140,000 reduction and a 2.86% tax increase. Smith wanted that $100,000 applied to 2022 instead of putting it into a working capital reserve that he said was worth $1.7 million. His rationale for lowering the raise was how he sympathized with residents, who endured pandemic-related hardship and how some residents saw nominal wage increases, which are less than the tax increase.
He acknowledged that the total surplus is not known, but assumed that it could be close to the $300,000 of the previous year and taking $200,000 could help reduce the increase in tax levies to less than 3%.

Smith made this claim when Kennedy tabled a motion to approve the budget. He clarified that the new posts in 2023 will then be reflected in the budget and that reserves may be needed to meet this larger expense.
Swannell said the surplus will have to be added to reserves with the current situation.
There is a problem with how the township has a rental rate model for vehicles, which is set where the township pays itself to operate, she said.
“It doesn’t work for us anymore because the basis is that as long as the vehicle is on the road and providing services to us, it generates revenue whose expenses are net and that surplus – we expect a surplus – is put into the reserve. development,” she said.

In 2021, the township drew $130,000 from the development reserve to finance its vehicles. Swannell said that was not a good position.
“Historically, two or three years ago, we put $150,000 based on the lease rate model. It doesn’t work today. I would recommend that staff be given the opportunity to review the reserve policy. Rethink the way we set aside money for asset replacement and management and that way we will put a policy in place. We all have rules to play and this will help us better manage our operating budget and take the uncertainty out of a mild winter where our vehicles are off the road and generating revenue…It’s a topic of discussion in itself,” she said. noted.
She adds that there will be an operating surplus in 2021, but staff are looking at the numbers.
Swannell added that the municipality is now drawing from reserves to fund vehicles in 2021, which “is not practical at the moment, so we will definitely put some of this excess money into reserves for vehicle replacements and replacement of our equipment”.

The Board will discuss this issue at a later date.

The sources of funding for Dysart et al are that 58% of its total revenue comes from property tax, 16.8% comes from grants and other non-tax revenue, which comes from municipal reserves and user fees are by 25.3%.
The largest expenditures by department are transport, environment and protection. From a graph titled Expenditure by department, Swannell said the “blowout” in transport in 2022 is partly due to the transfer of money to reserves for the asset management plan worth $140,000.
Some of the changes made from the second draft included a reduction in general government, an $8,250 reduction in the staggering of the volunteer firefighter salary increase over the course of the year; a reduction in the road department due to staff changes; a total reduction of $24,942 with the museum, which will not hire a summer student; and the reduction in the floor replacement reserve at West Guilford Community Center, and Planning and Development saw a reduction of $25,325 due to increased revenue and a reduction of $11,993 due to lower salaries and benefits. The only area among the amendments that developed with this third project was landfills where there was a $4,434 increase in staffing costs with salaries and benefits related to the winter hours of the landfills in Harcourt , Kennisis Lake and West Bay. The total net reduction in levies was 1.28% or $130,842.

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 129 in Haliburton will receive $2,000 for their elevator campaign (for accessibility to their building) after considering the non-profit organization, which was recognized as a beneficiary value of council support for community contributions. Kennedy asked about the use of some of the $8,000 budgeted for events, which was available due to cancellations of city events such as Frost Festival and New Year’s Levy due to the pandemic. Swannell said $2,000 is set aside for grant applications for organizations to hold events and the board (with McKechnie asking for $5,000) voted to transfer. This transfer will not affect the tax levy.
Roberts congratulated everyone involved in the budget process.
“Very good conversation tip. Really, I think we can all see that we work hard and try to respect each other. We all have a difference of opinion but once we come to a budget and once we come to this discussion we support our staff going forward and I think it’s great that we can pass a budget in February,” she said. “It’s quite an accomplishment considering the staff have been working on it since September/October, but it’s great to pull it off at this time of year. So thank you all.”

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