Ramara Township council has sent staff back to the drawing board after being presented with an “unacceptable” tax increase.
Staff recently suggested a 19.9 per cent increase.
“When I saw that, there was just no way,” Mayor Basil Clarke said, adding the rest of council felt the same way.
Council directed staff to shave that increase to four per cent.
“I think council can live with that,” he said.
Council will meet March 6 and 7 to discuss the new proposal, which Clarke expects to receive next week.
Among the items contributing to the tax hike are salaries, which have gone up.
Infrastructure, including roadwork, can often make up a big chunk of the budget, but fuel prices are low, “and that’s why it looks like our roads budget is coming in flat,” Clarke said.
The mayor said there were some “specialty projects” in the budget, including $70,000 for a new communications tower — a joint project between the township and its fire department. Council asked that it be removed from the budget and brought back later as a separate funding request.
The tower would improve fire department communication, but it could have other benefits.
“We could sell space to small, independent internet companies,” Clarke said, noting there is no capacity at the moment to expand on that in the township.
Severn approves hike
Severn Township has passed a budget that will see a 2.88 per cent tax hike. That will represent an increase of $22.37 for properties assessed at $100,000.
Last year, the township managed to keep the tax increase low at .33 per cent. This year, there are some projects that need urgent attention, Mayor Mike Burkett said.
Two culverts on the Uhthoff Trail need to be replaced. A bridge in Coldwater needs to be replaced, costing $1.2 million. And, a bridge on Irish Line needs to be repaired. That project will cost more than $2 million.
Council was able to pull from its reserves for the bridge work, lessening the impact on taxpayers.
The Coldwater Arena will also get some attention, as council approved $600,000 for a new roof — “far less than what we’d need to build a new arena,” Burkett said.
Severn’s 2.88 per cent tax increase could change once the education tax rate is determined by the province. However, Burkett doesn’t anticipate much of a difference.
“It should stay the same. If anything, it may come down,” he said.