Taxes increasing nearly six percent

Staff

Town council approved the 2024 Operating Budget in a Special Council meeting on Monday. It brought in a 5.99 per cent tax increase, including education.

The bump represents $729,178 in increased spending by the Town. The average change on the annual tax bill will be $168 for residential, and $739 for commercial.

The vote to approve the budget was not unanimous – Councillors Wendy Brunetta and John McTaggart voted to defeat the motion. McTaggart felt the Town should attempt another round of cuts before passing the budget.

“I’m disappointed that we’ve gone backwards on this, and I’m really having trouble supporting an increase of 5.99 per cent,” he said. “I really think that we need to go back and take another look and try to find some more savings.”

Mayor Andrew Hallikas said this year’s budget was the most difficult he’s ever been a part of. When the process started, the town was looking at a $1.2 million increase. He commented staff for trimming as much as they did.

“I think that to have gotten it down to just over 700,000 was some really good work by both council and administration. It’s still a significant increase, but if you look across the province, you are seeing increases in a similar vein everywhere,” he said.

Fixed, uncontrollable costs accounted for roughly $1 million of the overage. Depleting reserves have also reduced the Town’s flexibility. Policing costs have increased by ore than $80 thousand. The District of Rainy River Services Board cost increase is $229 thousand, while salaries and benefits have increased $400 thousand.