Gore Bay council passes increased budget

GORE BAY—With a decrease in assessment levels through the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, and increased non-discretionary costs in several areas the town cannot control, Gore Bay council passed its 2017 municipal budget on Monday that will see an increase to local taxpayers.

In looking at council passing a bylaw to adopt the 2017 municipal budget estimates, Mayor Ron Lane told council Monday, “we had our public meeting tonight (held prior to the regular council meeting) and all members of council were at the committee of the whole meeting when we adopted the current budget estimates.”

“It provided a number of challenges,” said Mayor Lane. “The rate of inflation is over two percent (currently 2.4 percent) so everything is costing us more. And our assessment has dropped almost three percent (2.8 percent) and is one of the major contributors (to the budget increase), as it drives the tax rates up.” Mayor Lane noted that realizing the effect of lowered assessments by MPAC, council made significant expenditure cuts to decrease the tax rate in an effort to lessen the burden to taxpayers as a result of reassessment. “There were also increases in non-discretionary costs that we don’t have any control over but have to pay, like transportation costs (tipping fees) for waste at the transfer station (an increase of 89.56 percent to $59,366), Manitoulin Planning Board (10.41 percent so $6,226), Manitoulin Centennial Manor (17 percent increase, to $23,426), airport (25 percent increase for a total of $9,765) and heat and hydro (four percent increase to $156,940). Other things that the town has no control over and has to pay is police costs, education levy, and Manitoulin-Sudbury District Social Services Administration Board costs.”

“In our discretionary costs for this year, we are focusing a lot on infrastructure, roads, sidewalks and hopefully the boardwalk replacement,” said Mayor Lane.

“As a result of all of this we will see a 2.8 percent levy increase. This is reasonable, but the balance of the increase (5.7 percent in total) is made up of the decrease in assessment,” said Mayor Lane.

It is pointed out in the budget the levy was arrived at by council making decreases in the budget of $305,401 from the original proposed budget of $1,332,914.

In the highlights of expenditures included in the 2017 budget include: Phipps Street reconstruction, Eleanor Street reconstruction, boardwalk replacement, New Street reconstruction preliminary engineering, hardtop crack sealing and line painting, sidewalks, medical centre interior maintenance,  arena doors, fitness equipment, new swim docks, pavilion staining, trail completion, and hiring of a joint economic development officer

Some expenditures proposed but not included in this year’s budget include hiring a recreation director, hiring public works student, purchasing a utility trailer, boat and motor, hiring a by-law officer, tower viewer-east bluff, purchasing a 2010 Ford-front plow and back rack, 8 Dawson Street windows/steps, hiring an office student. These items were deferred for this year and will be reconsidered in the 2018 budget.

Each taxpayer will be affected differently depending on the overall MPAC assessment increase/decrease applied to their property.

“I would like to thank the members of council for your efforts in going over the budget deliberations over the past few months,” said Mayor Lane. “I believe this is a good budget,” he continued noting, “I would also like to thank (town clerk) Annette (Clarke) and her staff for all their work, getting the numbers together, providing reports and inputting.”

Ms. Clarke told council that with the increase in taxes-a local resident with $100,0000 assessment will see an increase in taxes of $84.30. She also pointed out that this adopted budget only includes the municipal levy; it does not include education levies, which will be released by the Rainbow District School Board later this spring.

Council passed a motion in favour of adopting the 2017 municipal budget estimates.

At the public meeting prior to the council meeting, only one member of the public, Lou Addison, was in attendance. It was pointed out, “there was quite a jump in the non-discretionary costs, with the landfill costs going up almost 90 percent, airport up 25 percent, and the Manitoulin Planning Board costs going up because NEMI left.”

“I’m sure everyone’s share of costs for the planning board went up with NEMI leaving,” said Ms. Addison.