BY CLAIRE CUDAHY
Red Lake mayor and council passed the 2016 municipal budget with total expenditures of $19,356,428 and a 2.4 net tax increase to local ratepayers in a four to one vote at the April 18 Council Meeting.
Mayor Phil Vinet stressed, however, that “this is not a tax rate increase budget.”
The residential tax rate set by the municipality has gone down from .01386124 in 2015 to .01337035 in 2016. The net tax rate of 2.4 per cent is then determined by multiplying the MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation) assessments by the tax rate. In 2015, there was an approved 3.5 per cent net tax increase.
“It’s going to have varying effects on different properties,” explained Vinet at the April 11 Committee of the Whole. “The amount of money that an individual homeowner pays may increase because of the assessment, not because of the tax rate.”
With the 2016 budget comes a number of operating cost increases for the municipality.
“Yes, electricity costs are going up, but there are other things that go up as well,” noted Municipal CAO Mark Vermette in the April 11 meeting.
Vermette pointed to rising costs associated with social assistance, such as an increase in operating costs of $49,383 for assistance to aged persons (from $430,079 in 2015 to $479,462 in 2016), $44,520 for ambulance services (from $312,600 in 2015 to $357,120 in 2016), and $33,776 for social housing (from $411,273 in 2015 to $445,049 in 2016).
“Our airport contract increased by $66,205…and I also want to add that our OMPF [Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund] funding was decreased again for this year and that went down $154,500,” added Vermette.
“We’re in some challenging times, but in challenging time we don’t sit back and fold our tent. We roll up our sleeves and work harder and do a better job.”
Capital expenditures total $2,202,335 for 2016, down from $3,154,279 in 2015.
“We look for areas for meaningful, long-term investments whether that’s in people or our equipment or our facilities or you name it. Things that will ultimately benefit our municipality,” said Vermette in regards to capital spending in the budget.
Some capital expenditures of note include:
Multipurpose events center: $135,00 for a feasibility study
Street lighting: $461,165 on 600+ cost-saving LED lights throughout the municipality
Fire department: $224,580 on personal safety breathing apparatuses
Miss McKenzie II: $30,528 on a replacement engine
Airport: $76,320 for an engineering study to explore the rehabilitation of the runway and taxiway B.
Municipal vehicles: $7,200 for GPS units in municipal fleet
The 2016 municipal budget can be read in full at www.redlake.ca.