Tehkummah council approves 4.78 percent tax rate increase

TEHKUMMAH—Tehkummah council approved the 2018 budget and a 4.78 percent tax rate increase at its July 24 meeting. Acting Clerk-Treasurer Barb Deforge told council the 2018 budget must be approved prior to nomination day, July 27. She noted there were three options: pass the budget as presented, follow the 2017 budget, or wait for the new council to be elected.

The budget was prepared with assistance from Susan Shannon of 910090 Ontario Ltd. o/a Shaping Organizational Solutions (SOS), based in Port Severn, Ontario. According to the  report provided to council, since the 2017 audited financial statements were not yet available, the 2018 budget was based on the unaudited figures in the 2017 general ledger, other 2017 information provided and thorough discussions with staff on anticipated 2018 revenues and expenditures.

The report to council stated, “Clearly the preference would have been to wait for the auditor’s final adjusted figures for 2017, but given the urgency to have a 2018 budget passed due to the pending 2018 municipal elections and the need to produce the 2018 final tax and water bills, it is recommended that council pass the 2018 budget as presented.”

The report also noted the budget may require amendment once 2017 audited statements are available. “The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has confirmed to staff, ‘if’ the audited results for 2017 determine there is a need to amend the budget, the township does have the ability and authority to do so before year end. If the audited changes are minor, there would not be a need to amend the budget,” the report concluded. “In this case, staff would simply adjust operations to try to meet budget or run a deficit at year end to be picked up in the 2019 budget.”

Total 2018 budgeted expenditures are $1,709,644 operations and $59,894 capital costs for a total of $1,769,538. Costs are offset by $680,586 non-tax revenues leaving $1,088,952 to be levied.

Councillor Paul Bowerman was concerned by the increase as property owners are also affected by a Municipal Property Assessment Corporation increase, asking if there was an option to offset the municipal tax rate increase by transferring from gas tax reserves to roads and water and sewer. Ms. Deforge noted, “If you change any of this you won’t be passing the budget.”

In a recorded vote, Reeve Eric Russell and councilors Paul Bowerman, Lorie Leeson and Mike Mackenzie voted in favour of passing the budget as presented. Councillor Ron Hierons voted against the motion, noting there were too many unanswered questions.

Later in the meeting, council also approved water and sewer billing rates on the recommendation from staff “that the water and sewer second quarter billing be sent out at the 2017 rates until the 2018 budget has been approved and passed.”

Second quarter water and sewer billing had been delayed for various reasons.