Council to vote on budget tonight Pool fees again being protested

With most recent numbers showing an overall tax increase of 2.05 percent, town council will reveal the 2005 budget to the public on Monday night and then vote to adopt it.
The public meeting is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. Like last year, it will include a Power Point presentation by Information Technology manager Darryl Allan.
“I’d definitely encourage the public to either watch on TV or come on down for tonight’s presentation,” Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig said Monday morning.
“Having this type of meeting lends a transparency to the whole process,” he added. “We feel we are able to break it down, and basically explain to everyone how we do what we do.”
Treasurer Peggy Dupuis also will discuss tax capping options, as well as the operating forecast and tax rates for 2005.
As previously reported, the projected levy increase will amount to a 2.75 percent hike for residential property owners. For those with property assessed at $100,000, this would mean a hike of about $22 to their tax bill.
The other tax increases would be:
•5.42 percent for multi-residential;
•1.61 percent for commercial occupied;
•0.42 percent for commercial vacant;
•0.55 percent for industrial occupied/vacant;
•2.09 percent for pipelines; and
•2.75 percent for farmlands.
McCaig noted while the new water and sewer rates won’t be set until July, there will be some discussion Monday night as to the town’s future plans regarding upgrading the sewer and water infrastructure here.
And how the cost of doing so ultimately will mean a hike in water and sewer rates.
The upgrades are due to more stringent environmental regulations that have come in the wake of the Walkerton tragedy.
< *c>Pool fees
The 2005 budget also includes the revised user fee schedule, which McCaig said is not much different than last year’s.
But there will be a budget-related presentation from the Fort Frances Aquanauts Swim Team on Monday night regarding increases to pool rental fees.
FFAST president John Dutton wrote a letter to council dated April 19 expressing concern over a significant increase in pool fees that are included in the 2005 user fee schedule.
In the 2004 user fee schedule, the town was going to increase the pool hourly rental fee from $30 to $60.
But due to pleas from local swim clubs, council instead opted to stagger the hike, increasing the rates 50 percent last year ($30 to $45 per hour) and another 50 percent this year ($45 to $60).
Still, Dutton noted the increase is “excessive and unfair.”
“If the latest $15 per hour fee hike comes to pass, our ability to maintain a competitive swim club in Fort Frances is in serious jeopardy. In fact, the Aquanauts will probably be forced to shut down,” Dutton said in his letter.
Dutton will be requesting the town indefinitely freeze the hourly pool rate at $45, or in the very least spread the 100 percent increase over a five-year period instead of just two.
Other business at Monday night’s meeting will include:
•bylaws to adopt the 2005 budget, to determine tax capping for 2005, to adopt the 2005 user fees schedule, and to establish tax ratios for 2005;
•a presentation by museum curator Pam Hawley, representing the Museum and Cultural Centre Advisory Committee, regarding fundraising plans for museum renovations;
•a request from the local Police Services Board for support of its resolution regarding the installation of surveillance cameras on Scott Street;
•a letter of resignation from Dave Lovisa of the Fort Frances Economic Development Advisory Committee;
•a letter of concern from June Smith regarding a zoning application fee;
•a request from Atikokan Mayor Dennis Brown regarding use of the Town of Fort Frances as a host centre in the event of an evacuation;
•a request from Mary Martinson, co-ordinator of he Fort Frances Palliative Volunteer Program, to proclaim May 2-8 as “National Hospice Palliative care Week” in the Town of Fort Frances;
•a request from Laura Mills, Superintendent of Business for the Rainy River District School Board, regarding the disposition of surplus real property at 408 King’s Highway (Alexander MacKenzie School); and
•a bylaw to approve a contract for rehabilitation work on sanitary sewer, watermains, and sidewalks to Bay City Contractors Inc.
(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)