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Tax rates go down in town budget

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With a drop in tax rates, many residential property owners here can expect to see a decrease on their tax bills this year.

Deputy treasurer Dawn Galusha outlined the 2018 municipal budget at Monday night's regular council meeting, noting that even though there's a half-percent increase to the tax levy, with an increase to assessment and a decrease to the education tax, the actual tax rates will decrease anywhere from 2.3-3.8 percent depending on the property class.

For the residential class, the tax rate decrease is 2.3008 percent.

If they've had no change in assessment this year, a property owner with a home with a current value assessment (CVA) of $60,000 will see a $25.76 decrease on their tax bill.

A house with a CVA of $100,000 will see a $42.93 decrease while those with CVAs of $150,000 and $200,000 will a decrease to the tune of $64.40 and $85.86, respectively.

This does not necessarily mean no one's taxes will be going up this year, however.

In simplest terms, those properties that went up in assessment last year will go up again this year as part of a four-year phase-in while those that had a reduction last year will see their taxes stay the same or go down slightly.

This year, the town has an operating budget of $22,324,295, a capital budget of $8,227,704, and a water and sewer operating budget of $5,388,149 for a total of $35,940,148.

As in past years, the town's operating budget is comprised of costs controlled by the municipality and uncontrollable ones they must pay for, such as policing or the health unit levy.

This year, $41.57 of every $100 in tax dollars is for uncontrollable costs while $58.43 of every $100 pays for controllable costs.

The town's total debt at the end of 2017 was $1.79 million.

Any capital projects this year will be paid for through grants and reserve funds, with no additional long-term debt financing.

The budgeted debenture loan and interest payments for 2018 are $506,884, down from $633,228 in 2017.

The reserve fund balance for the end of 2017 was $12.9 million.

The capital budget allocation for 2018 will reduce the reserve funds by $3.5 million as the town will spend this money on projects, vehicles, equipment, buildings, and water and sewer work.

But after contributions to reserves this year, the projected reserve fund balance by the end of 2018 is estimated to be $13.2 million.

“It's great to see we're in such good financial shape,” Mayor Roy Avis said after the presentation.

He thanked town managers for keeping council “on track,” and noted the town's low long-term debt is a favourable sign for the future, especially given the town's decreasing large industrial assessment.

The budget will receive final approval by council at its May 14 meeting.

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