Tehkummah approves 2019 budget

Council discusses fees for marina, landfill, firefighting

TEHKUMMAH – Tehkummah council passed its 2019 budget and 2019 tax rates bylaws at its April 23 meeting, with a two percent average increase in the mil rates for the various property types in addition to its increases in assessment value.

In presenting the tax rates bylaw to council, clerk-administrator Roy Hardy said, “this basically identifies the amount of tax to be raised, how it is divided between the classes, and also it basically outlines the process for collecting taxes this year in terms of the payment schedule, when they’re due to be brought into the office and how we deal with late payments.”

The township will be raising a total of $1,127,753.89 in taxes for 2019. The bulk of these taxes will come from residential properties which, including the increase in their assessment, will be paying 6.0 percent more than in 2016.

Tax rates are made up of two parts: property assessment values and “mil rates” (sometimes spelled mill rates), or the amount charged per $1,000 worth of assessed value. This rate is set by the township based on its budget needs. 

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) determines the value of properties within the township and the mil rate is applied to that figure.

Commercial properties will only be seeing a 0.1 percent increase over 2018 because the assessment values went down in this category. Industrial properties will be dropping 6.3 percent, while farm taxes will increase by 23.9 percent and managed forests will jump 38.2 percent, the latter two seeing massive increases in their MPAC weighted assessment values.

Councillor Rick Gordon noted that farms only bring in approximately $12,500 per year, a figure confirmed by clerk-administrator Roy Hardy. Farm mil rates are approximately four times lower than residential and industrial properties.

As a whole, Tehkummah will be bringing in 6.45 percent more tax revenue than 2018.

Also included in the budget was a 10-year capital and maintenance budget, which outlines projected average costs for the coming decade. This will help the township to identify its long-term infrastructure goals in areas such as roads and municipal works and enable it to better plan for its future needs.

The councillors then moved on to the Fees and Services Bylaw, a document that outlines the rates for various services the township provides.

“I’d feel more comfortable, with respect to the fees bylaw, that at this point it just be received—which is giving it a first reading,” said Mr. Hardy, who had presented a preliminary document for council to discuss and shape into the values they deemed appropriate.

Reeve David Jaggard asked when the document should be in place, considering seasonal services such as the marina will be opening soon. Mr. Hardy said the different fees can be placed into effect at different schedules, depending on what is appropriate.

“You need to get them sooner than later. My intent is to, in effect, make them effective June 1 or July 1, depending on when it is passed,” said Mr. Hardy.

Council chose to have some discussions on the fees at the same meeting, with one topic of intense discussion being landfill fees. To reflect that the township needed to start collecting money for the use of its dump, Mr. Hardy had added a preliminary amount of a $5 cash site visit charge, doubled to $10 for non-residents.

“It’s an issue of, it’s not a free service and it’s not being paid for by taxes,” said Mr. Hardy. “The public needs to understand you’re not covering those costs. Those costs are increasing, and if you’re going to have a landfill expansion, they’re going to increase a lot.”

Councillor Lorie Leeson said there were not supposed to be any non-residents using the landfill at all and that a site visit charge may cause problems.

“If you end up charging a $5 site visit, you’re going to end up with, ‘if I have to pay for it, I’m going to throw everything in.’ It’s going to do away with the recycling part of it. People are going to say, ‘I’m paying five bucks, I’ll put it wherever I want,’ which will not send us in the right direction,” said Councillor Leeson.

Mr. Hardy acknowledged that a site visit charge came with its own problems, but that he only intended to use it as a starting point for discussion. He suggested having a quarterly environmental charge added to the utility bill to cover landfill access, something many municipalities implement.

Councillor Michael McKenzie had concerns with the marina rates in that the discount was too steep for those reserving seasonal or monthly slips. The draft bill had a monthly discount of more than 30 percent compared to the weekly rate, for example.

“I’m all in favour of getting a discount when you know someone’s committed to (a slip), but at the same time, our marina’s losing money every year. I don’t think we can afford to give that much of a discount. And if you look at the seasonal one, it’s even more extreme,” said Councillor McKenzie.

He suggested moving the discount halfway between its current position and what the full price may be. Mr. Hardy will look at other marinas and assess the needs based on those. Councillor Leeson also suggested increasing the camping fees at John Budd Park, which will be assessed for the next reading of the bylaw.

One major change to the budget was the implementation of a $500 call cost per hour for each piece of firefighting equipment sent to a fire call. Mr. Hardy said a person needing the fire department would face that charge which is generally paid by fire insurance policies. Should a resident be uninsured, council has the ability to make an adjustment.

“You should have a policy in this municipality that everybody’s carrying a certain amount of fire insurance,” he said.

“The tax bill today takes care of all the preparation, like making sure you have a tanker, making sure you have trained people. The actual cost of the fire event is one that, in many jurisdictions, the municipalities are now charging for because taxes don’t cover those costs,” said Mr. Hardy.

Councillor Eric Russell asked whether the other townships on Manitoulin also have firefighting charges, something into which Mr. Hardy said he would check.