Committee recommends one percent increase in Gore Bay budget

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GORE BAY – Members of the Gore Bay council committee of the whole have made a recommendation for a one percent increase in the town’s 2021 budget.

“I think it’s a fair budget,” stated Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne after the committee of the whole meeting, last week. “Staff did a very good job of getting everything in line and making it easier for council to understand. And for Mike (Lalonde, town treasurer), this is his first budget with the town so there is a bit of a learning curve, but he accomplished everything necessary.” 

“Members of council have all received a copy of the draft budget package, which includes the recommendations and changes council has requested,” Mr. Lalonde told the committee at the meeting Monday. He noted, “we were able to get the budget down to a modest surplus position” after reviewing the 2020 budget and finding a few minor things that required being changed, or minor housekeeping changes. He pointed out this surplus (about $50,000) could be put into general reserves to be used for reductions of proposed expenditures and year-end adjustments.

“My recommendation is to go with a 1.9 percent increase, which allows the town to put reserves away for any unexpected costs in the next year or the future,” said Mr. Lalonde.

Mr. Lalonde told council it is expected the town will receive a total of $52,000 from the federal government in gas tax and Ontario municipal infrastructure funds. These funds will go toward the town paving program and culvert work projects, as well as a sidewalk project. 

In the draft budget the town has increased the water/sewer rates by seven percent. This will be used to renew infrastructure-with several projects this year. This increase also falls in line with recommendations from a study done a couple of years ago, that the town should increase water/sewer rates yearly to keep up with costs and to refresh infrastructure when needed. 

After further briefing on the draft budget and more discussion, Mr. Lalonde recommended the committee consider a recommendation to council to increase the tax rate by 1.9 percent, with $63,000 going into general reserves. He explained that with a 1.9 percent increase in the taxation rate it would follow the cost of inflation, while a zero percent increase/decrease budget would mean no change in the mil rate, although some properties would see an increase based on an increase in their assessment. The third option would be to reduce property taxes 3.5 percent, which would be in line with balancing the budget but provide for no surplus. 

Councillor Kevin Woestenenk said that regardless of the option recommended by the committee, the draft budget numbers “are better that I thought they were going to be.” 

“I would recommend we go with an increase of one percent to generate $52,000 in surplus for the year,” said Councillor Jack Clark. He put forward a motion from the committee recommendation (which was seconded by Councillor Kevin Woestenenk) to increase the tax rate by one percent. 

Councillor Clark told the Recorder after the meeting, “an increase of 1.9 percent means we would be increasing the tax rate by the full cost of living. By bringing this down to one percent it would give people a bit of a break, and with COVID-19 things may be more economically challenging this year for some residents.”

Mr. Lalonde told the Recorder education rates have remained the same this year, and that with a one percent increase in the budget it would mean that for each $100,000 of assessment per property, there will be a cost of $16.72.

It was noted that the budget includes funds put aside by the town for the renovation of the town boardwalk, the new Gore Bay pavilion (to be located where the old tennis courts had been at the town waterfront) and roof work to be done on the arena, marina building and Buoy’s Restaurant. However, if the town does not receive government funding support, the funds set aside will not be spent on these projects this year. 

Gore Bay’s 2021 draft budget will be considered for approval by Gore Bay council at a regular council meeting held on April 12 at 7:30 pm. 

Members of the public are welcome to attend the virtual council meeting to provide any comments or concerns to council regarding the 2021 draft budget.

The draft budget is available online at www.gorebay.ca, or one can request a copy via email, or pick up a copy at the Gore Bay municipal office.