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Brooke-Alvinston approves tax rate hike, tightens spending

By Melissa Schilz, Postmedia Network

Mayor Don McGugan

Mayor Don McGugan

 Brooke-Alvinston council has approved a 4.5 per cent tax increase for property owners, the largest in memory.

Following council’s meeting on Wednesday, Mayor Don McGugan said the rate increase is necessary, although he understands residents won’t be pleased.

“Our population is small and we still have significant infrastructure that needs to be maintained,” he said. “I know people will be upset… I’ve been here 18 years and this is the largest increase I’ve ever seen.”

Despite the increase in taxation by almost $290,000, McGugan said $172,000 will still be taken from reserve funds to supplement the budget, something council had initially hoped to avoid. But a lower tax rate increase would have meant dipping even further into reserves, to the tune of $233,313.

Treasurer Stephen Ikert said because of market assessment increases in 2017, residential class taxes will go up by about 10 per cent, while farming land will go up by about 20 per cent on the municipal side of things.

McGugan said this is the first time the council has taken a significant amount from reserve funds, but the less they take, the better.

Coun. Ken Alderman noted during the meeting that taking out $230,000 would be a mistake on council’s part.

“It’s our rainy-day account… we don’t know what’s down the road,” he said.

Ikert said cuts were made from nearly every department. Significant cuts have come after Brooke-Alvinston experienced a major drop in revenue, including a decline of $130,000 from the Ontario Municipal Partnership Grant Fund.

“It’s a fairly significant drop and it’s projected to keep on dropping like that every year,” he said.

McGugan said cuts will mean planned projects will be reduced, including sidewalk and road works, as well as the number of dollars put towards the fire departments.

Despite making grant applications, the municipality has had no luck in securing additional funding.

“We could have taken more out of reserves, but they’re there for a reason,” he said.

McGugan said it was a tough decision to make, one that will affect all residents.

“I do feel sorry,” he said. “It puts council in a really bad position.” 

 
mschilz@postmedia.com