Central Huron moves forward on 0 per cent tax rate increase budget - March 22, 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Central Huron’s tax rate will not be increasing for the sixth year in a row, despite a multi-million-dollar increase in year-over-year spending. It has decreased for the last five years and is breaking even in the 2018 budget.
Treasurer Terri Rau presented the most recent draft of this year’s budget at a special council meeting on March 13. The Central Huron portion of the budget will increase by 4.07 per cent, but, when grouped with the municipality’s county and education rates, equates to a budget with a zero per cent increase to the tax levy.
As Mayor Jim Ginn pointed out that night, however, that doesn’t mean the municipality isn’t increasing its spending. The 2018 budget includes $2,838,206 in capital spending and $4,117,356 in its operating budget for a total of $6.95 million in levy requirements.
That equates to nearly a 10 per cent overall increase in levy requirements. Ginn said he felt council should remain vigilant of the municipality’s spending. Despite not increasing the tax rate, spending continues to rise, which he said could be a concerning trend with provincial funding steadily decreasing year after year.
He did say, however, that hosting the Clinton Raceway and Slots has proven to be a boon for the community in terms of the money injected into Central Huron every year.
Ginn also said that while the tax rate won’t be increasing for Central Huron residents, the amount of money being taken in by the municipality will increase due to the phased-in increase of assessment across the province, which is currently in its second year of a four-year cycle.
Two notable pressures on this year’s budget, Rau said, were the reduction of Central Huron’s Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) grant by $181,000 and a dramatic increase in municipal drain costs. Total municipal drain costs for 2018 will be $198,000, which is an increase of $156,000 from the previous year.
Rau told councillors that a number of capital projects had already been approved in the budget. These included a new ramp at the Clinton Library, a new roof for the Central Huron municipal office in Clinton, accessibility upgrades to the municipal office, the replacement of three pickup trucks, the skateboarding park in the new community park in Clinton, the installation of LED streetlights in Clinton, sidewalk construction in Clinton and a number of other smaller projects.
Council also included a handful of paving projects in the budget. The majority of the cuts from the proposed budget came from paving capital projects. So, Ginn said, while the municipality won’t be doing as much paving this year as its has in past years, that decision has helped to reduce the burden on the budget.
Allboro Line from Blyth Road to Londesboro Road will be paved, in addition to Bayfield River Road from Whys Line to Highway 21, Whys Line from County Road 13 to County Road 18 and Hydro Line Road from County Road 15 to Division Line.
In order to get the budget to where councillors wanted it to go, a number of alternative funding sources needed to be employed for a few projects.
Work at the Sloman School on Wheels will be taken from its reserve, as opposed to general taxation, while improvements to the Clinton pool will come from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) reserve.
Councillors said they were happy with the direction of the budget and Rau’s work. They said they didn’t see the need for the next budget meeting, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, March 27.
Rau will now make a brief budget presentation at council’s April 3 meeting, ahead of the final budget presentation on April 16 at 5 p.m. at the municipal office in Clinton.
Rau will make her final presentation of the budget to members of the public and council will vote to officially adopt the budget at that meeting.