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Education levy raises tax questions

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Confusion over the education portion raised the most questions on the 1998 tax bills, treasurer Carol Busch and tax collector Ed Katona told town council last night.

While in past years the school board set the levy, this year the province standardized it at .46 percent of current market value assessment. And it was the education levy that made the tax bill appear so much higher.

“We levied the whole thing but we pay it over to the province,” Busch explained, with residential taxpayers seeing, on average, a 10.5 percent increase in their municipal tax bills this year.

While the municipality is levying $798,000 more from residential ratepayers, Busch noted the amount collected for education decreased $618,000.

On the commercial side, those amounts both increased $139,000 and $17,000 respectively.

Because it is a transition year (with the transfer of services and the province-wide reassessment), Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said he didn’t anticipate the years ahead would be as difficult.

Also last night, council:

•approved a new digester be put in at the water pollution control plant, with the town’s share (20 percent) expected to be more than $200,000;

•approved various 1999 tax policy matters, including setting the commercial occupied ratio at 2.99. The $25,000 revenue loss is to be achieved through operational efficiencies and won’t be shifted to residential ratepayers;

•supported the sale of the Heritage Depot to the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau, and approved having it designated provincially by the Historic Sites and Monuments board;

•decided because it was a provincial highway, it couldn’t do anything to prevent pulp trucks from using Scott Street;

•approved one-hour parking in front of Northland Computers Plus and Einar’s;

•appointed Coun. Struchan Gilson to the Rainy River District Housing Authority board;

•approved the Public Works department look at the sidewalk to Pither’s Point after a young girl was injured there in August;

•set the annual appreciation,long-term service, and retirement banquet for Nov. 27;

•extended the terms of agreement to Oct. 30 for sale of land to Robert Hamilton;

•okayed the slo-pitch association to shorten the infield at the St. Francis North diamond at its own cost;

•received the final waterfront development report, giving Community Services the go-ahead to send a funding application to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, and referred it to the executive committee for financing recommendations;

•approved Mayor Witherspoon to attend the Northern Ontario Business Awards in Sault Ste. Marie on Oct. 26;

•learned the cemetery headstones were erected and a program put in place to monitor them;

•approved Fort Frances Friends of Animals’ request to temporarily share facilities at the town’s animal shelter;

•renewed its garbage collection contract with Asselin’s for $157,000, up 1.5 percent over last year;

•approved $9,000 upgrades to the school-age playground at the Children’s Complex, with Hammond’s getting the contract;

•set the 1998 tax relief policy at eight percent for those who qualify;

•approved a $1,500 dinner contribution and mayor and council attendance to an Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario board of directors meeting here Nov. 21-22;

•referred donation requests to the OFAH Dinner Committee, Scott Street Scare, and the music and drama festival to the Administration and Finance executive committee; and

•referred the review of International Joint Commission’s Order for Rainy and Namakan lakes to the Operations and Facilities executive committee and Mayor Witherspoon.

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