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Townships calculating number shuffle

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District municipalities are still trying to figure out just what impact the province’s new download numbers will have on their 1998 budgets--and local taxes.

While all agree the numbers have changed, no one is quite sure what the final impact will be. But some are optimistic the “download” could come out revenue neutral after all.

“In Dawson’s case, I think we could make the $17,000 cut,” Clerk Pat Giles said, referring to the 1.7 percent savings from the 1996 budget each municipality was told to find.

Giles noted that by amalgamating Atwood, Blue, Dilke, and Worthington into the Township of Dawson last year, they dropped their general government budgets from $88,000 to $48,000.

“That’s the benefit of amalgamating, I guess,” he added.

He also felt the new Lake of the Woods Township, which was created when Morson and McCrosson-Tovell amalgamated earlier this year, would be able to find its $15,000 reduction.

Council there was slated to meet last night.

Meanwhile, Clerk Faye Flatt was optimistic Alberton might be able to keep any tax hike to a minimal there.

“There will probably be a slight increase but I don’t think it’s going to be as horrific as some people think,” Flatt noted, adding the budget committee--made up of Reeve Judy Koski, Coun. Lucy Lahti, and herself--was slated to meet later this week.

She also noted yesterday that Alberton’s Community Reinvestment Fund jumped $35,000 to $303,000.

“Mind you, some of the costs have increased as well,” she added, with the township having to find $16,000 in savings.

And she noted some of the figures from Queen’s Park didn’t match their calculations. While the province allocated $11,000 for the Farm Tax Rebate, Flatt felt it would cost the municipality twice that amount.

And Alberton calculated a $131,000 revenue for the “education tax room.” The province, though, said that would come in at $82,000.

Over in La Vallee, Clerk Laurie Witherspoon said they still had to meet its 1.7 percent target savings. “[But] we’re getting closer,” she added.

In Emo, Clerk Brenda Cooke admitted the numbers had changed but she didn’t want to comment on them until after meeting with Ministry of Municipal Affairs reps.

She hoped that meeting would take place before April 17 because that was the deadline to apply for the province’s special circumstances fund.

“They’re different,” she said, but adding she didn’t know what it would mean to Emo’s ’98 budget, which they hoped to set later this month. “We’re going to have to sit down and analyze all that.”

But even if the levies don’t change, Giles warned some people could see changes on their municipal tax bills. “We won’t raise the taxes but people will see either increases or decreases because of reassessment,” he explained.

He also noted policing costs weren’t part of the “download.” In Dawson, council opted to keep a $90 per household charge rather than tack it onto the tax levy.

According to new regulations under the Municipal Act, lower-tier municipalities have until the end of May to get their tax ratio set.

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