Tax hike in line with inflation

Duane Hicks

Most taxpayers will be looking at 1.5 percent levy increase this year.
Town council wrapped up its budget discussions Monday and Mayor Roy Avis said he’s satisfied council was able to keep the tax increase in line with inflation.
“If you keep up with the cost of living, then you’re not going to fall behind,” he noted, adding council passed a similar increase last year.
“If you look at our budget, we’re putting a lot of money into equipment, into buildings, into roads—we’re spending very diligently and we’re keeping our costs under control,” Mayor Avis stressed.
“We’re trying to make sure we keep up on everything.”
He noted the town has looked after its assets in the last eight-10 years, with upgrades to the waterfront, the sewage treatment plant, the water tower, the water treatment plant, and the dog pound, to name a handful.
“Because we carry such a low debt, we’ve been able to do that out of our capital budget and we haven’t been wasting our money paying interest,” he mayor added.
Mayor Avis thanked administration for putting together the budget, adding council is pleased with the “excellent job” they did.
The 1.5 percent tax increase is to generate revenue to balance out the town’s 2016 operating budget, which has a deficit of $154,534.
The majority of the taxes—$119,762—will come from the residential class.
As in past years, how much property owners pay varies depending on whether or not their assessment has changed.
A total of 1,182 residential properties’ taxes will go up an average of $38 while 308 will rise by an average of $138.
A total of 74 will increase by an average of $234, with six going up an average of $357.
One will increase by $557.
On the other hand, taxes for 849 properties will go down by an average of $14.
Commercial occupied will pick up $13,871 of the overall increase, with 62 properties going up an average of $42.
A total of 31 commercial occupied properties will increase by an average by $139, 14 will go up an average of $231, and seven will rise by an average of $409.
Three will go up an average of $587 while one will increase by $711.
Another one will go up by $1,208 while yet another will soar by $10,377.
Meanwhile, a total of 138 commercial occupied properties will see their taxes decrease by an average of $95.
The 1.5 percent tax levy hike applies to the residential, commercial, multi-residential, farm, and pipeline classes.
The industrial classes are increasing by .75 percent.
The $154,534 deficit would have been much higher, but the most recent operating budget factors in a rebate of $234,118 from the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board this year.
This is a sum of money due to the town from several years past.
All district municipalities received refunds based on apportionment.
Looking at reserve funds, the town is expecting to have a healthy $10 million in reserve at year-end.
The 2016 budget will be prepared for formal approval and presented to the public in the coming weeks.
In related news, council agreed Monday to contribute a surplus of $975,000 from the 2014 and 2015 budgets to reserve funds.
This amount resulted primarily from underspending of legal fees budgeted, no long-term debt for the salt/sand shed, proceeds from the sale of land, and less winter operations than budgeted due to favourable weather conditions.