Saturday, November 22, 2014

Budget on hold for now

The town’s 2014 budget will take slightly longer than expected before being passed due to recent changes in assessment at the mill property here, which Resolute Forest Products declared it was closing permanently last week.
The budget was supposed to have been presented publicly at last night’s meeting, but council has had to hold off until certain negotiations are finalized.

“Due to the reassessment of the mill going forward, there has been some changes made and we’re going to have to take another look at the budget before we move forward,” Mayor Avis said after yesterday’s meeting.
“It was set, we knew what our increases were going to be,” he noted.
“And when this particular issue came forward, then we decided we could not proceed with our budget as it is.”
Mayor Avis noted there will have to be changes made to make the budget balance.
“Believe me, we would love to pass it tonight [Monday],” the mayor stressed. “We want to stay at that 0.5 percent [residential tax increase].
“But we have to do due diligence and make sure that it’s done properly,” he noted.
Mayor Avis is hopeful the revised budget will not be drastically different.
“I think it will be close, but it depends on the outcome of certain negotiations that are going to be taking place,” he explained, adding he was unable to elaborate due to it being a confidential matter.
Mayor Avis expected that the budget, with any necessary changes, would be ready for presentation at council’s next meeting May 26.
The most recent budget meeting was May 1, at which time council set the tax ratios.
At that time, it was determined the municipal tax rate for residential will increase 1.034 percent.
But when the reduction in the education rate is factored in, the overall tax rate increase is .4391 percent.
Also at last night’s meeting, council:
•heard a presentation from Sandra Lange, president of CUPW Local 538, re: Save Canada Post—Stop the Cuts, and agreed to support the fight against the elimination of door-to-door mail delivery;
•heard a presentation from Duane Hicks, president of the “Friends of the Fort Frances Museum,” re: a new initiative to promote the Fort Frances Museum (the group of volunteers recently worked with Times Printing to develop a rack card highlighting information about the museum and promote it to tourists);
•referred a request from the Ontario Good Roads Association, re: remaining balance of the town’s share of the contribution to the Minimum Maintenance Standards (MMS) Litigation Reserve Fund, to the Administration and Finance executive committee for its recommendation;
•referred a financial request from the Rainy River Vet Services Committee, re: the annual Vet Assistance Trust Fund contribution, to the Administration and Finance executive committee for its recommendation;
•proclaimed June as “Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Awareness Month” in the Town of Fort Frances;
•passed a bylaw to authorize a licence agreement for purposes of utilization of the town’s geospatial data with rePlan Inc.;
•passed a bylaw to adopt a new community brand—“Fort Frances Boundless”; and
•received an invitation from Rainy River First Nations to attend the 44th-annual fish fry on Friday, May 16 at the pow-wow grounds there, and urged members of council to attend (but those who do so will not be eligible for per diem or travel expense claims).

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