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‘Lake of the Woods’ sees new township

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It’s official. McCrosson-Tovell and Morson will merge, and annex some of the unincorporated area in the Kenora District, to become the Township of Lake of the Woods over the next year.

The new township will be part of Rainy River District.

Municipal Affairs and Housing minister Al Leach announced yesterday the two townships will amalgamate Jan. 1, with the annexation of the unincorporated areas to take place one year later.

The move will cut the number of elected officials in half to five for the next municipal election in November, 2000. An interim council, made up of the two former councils, will hold office until then.

That’s different than what the two townships originally planned when they sent their proposal to the ministry. That proposal saw the unincorporated areas being annexed next June, with another election in July to pick an interim council made up of five people from the different areas.

(The original proposal also called for a larger chunk of the unincorporated area being annexed).

"They came back to us and said that we couldn’t have two interim councils," explained Clerk Pat Giles, noting regulations prohibited that.

Instead, the new township will keep nine councillors and one mayor for the next three years.

And that will impact some of their cost savings. The township had estimated it would save $7,000-$10,000 by cutting the number of council members in half--but that won’t happen now until November, 2000.

"We will still get some of the savings," Giles added, noting the township would only have to send one representative to out-of-town meetings and seminars.

Council members earn $70 per meeting, with one slated each month.

Combined, McCrosson-Tovell and Morson have to achieve a $15,000 cost savings in 1998 to meet the ministry’s goal of a 1.7 percent budget reduction ($7,000 savings for McCrosson-Tovell and $8,000 for Morson).

"I know we can still make those savings," Giles stressed.

But as of yet, Giles said they don’t know how much the tax base will increase with the annexation of the unincorporated areas.

The first calculation was done on a bigger area, with Giles saying he’s waiting for the new tax assessment numbers to come out before calculating for the smaller one.

"It won’t increase the tax base until 1999 when we bring in the [unincorporated] area," he added.

This is one of 74 restructuring proposals approved since the province passed the Savings and Restructuring Act.

In total, these proposals chop the number of municipal politicians in these areas from 4,586 to 3,662.

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