Published: February 7, 2018
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
Taxpayers in the Red Lake district could see a 1.2 per cent net tax increase in 2018 when the municipal operating budget gets approval later this month. Over the last five years the net increase to taxpayers has averaged 2.2 per cent.
Reviewing the proposed document at a Special Council meeting on Jan. 31 leaders were presented with a budget that CAO Mark Vermette says injects more money into reserves and includes the latest collective bargaining results.
“We have a common theme on contributing factors [for increases],” said Vermette while presenting each department’s overall budget.
Vermette told Councillors the collective bargaining process that concluded in December has resulted in a 2.5 per cent pay raise for staff. He says he anticipates the 2019 budget will reflect the savings negotiated through upcoming benefit changes.
The proposed 2018 budget shows a 1.33 per cent increase over the previous year including amortization. Most departmental budgets have increased including a 2.39 per cent increase to the Operations department and an over one per cent increase in Bylaw enforcement.
Vermette says the policing budget has decreased over 20 per cent thanks to lobbying efforts of municipal leaders bringing the cost per household to $570 from a previous high of over $1,100.
“We are still not there. We met with the municipal policing bureau down in [Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference] and they have indicated that we have stabilized…calls for service will dictate movement. If we have less calls for service or more calls for service it could be higher.”
The budget also calls for the creation of a Community Communications and Development Coordinator who would be responsible for writing funding applications and community liaison work.
“Communication as we know it has become colossal in our society. We want information and we want it now and that is just the world we live in compared to four years ago or 10 years ago. We believe that communication person will be an asset for our organization. For example if there is a water main break on Hammel we can tweet that and notify the public on facebook,” explained Vermette noting the position is expected to be full-time starting in June.
Commenting on the presented material Councillor Carol Baron voiced her support for the document noting: “I really like what I have seen here today.”
“I can’t believe everything has worked out better than last year and that we have a smaller projection of an increase to our taxpayers coming up in the future.”
Councillors will review the draft document at an additional Special Council Meeting on Feb. 6 before bringing it for consideration of approval at their Feb. 20 Regular Council Meeting.