Dawn-Euphemia taxpayers could be facing an 8.43 per cent municipal tax increase.
Council has just begun its 2017 budget deliberations on the $6 million document.
Mayor Al Broad says there are two reasons for the increase – an influx of cash for bridge repairs and decreasing provincial funding.
Broad says this year’s budget includes about $1 million in capital spending, including about $600,000 to repair the bridge in Florence.
The mayor says council has to put some money into local infrastructure and doubts there will be any cuts on the capital side. “You’re only fooling yourself if you make cuts to capital,” he says. “We know we have a huge infrastructure deficit, we know we are behind. You’re only fooling yourself if you keep cutting it back.”
But while the municipality is increasing funding for its infrastructure, the province continues to cut funding. This year, the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grant shrunk another $93,000.
“The province has made it very clear to us when we talked to them about OMPF funding that our taxes are very low and they said you have to start charging more taxes,” says Broad who has met with provincial officials several times on the issue and says the provincial view is not likely to change. “The OMPF funding is not about to change at this point.”
Broad says council doesn’t want to raise taxes but the municipality has to face reality.
“The bridges we have and the roads we have – we have to keep up the infrastructure. Neighbouring Chatham-Kent is closing bridges; for us, that wouldn’t be a very good option because we need our bridges here,” says Broad noting it would become difficult for farmers to take long detours on tractors just to get to their land.
Not included in the 2017 budget is funding for a new garbage and recycling system.
Bluewater Recycling suggested the municipality go to the wheelie bin system. Currently, Euphemia residents get roadside pickup. Bluewater Recycling suggested Dawn could be included as well.
Broad says council will likely touch on the concept during budget, however it won’t have a big impact since residents would pay the cost of getting the system up and running directly through purchasing the new bins.
And he says the program likely wouldn’t start until late in the fall if it were approved.
Council has a couple of budget meetings scheduled to go over the document including Feb. 13 at 4 pm.
Broad isn’t clear how much they’ll be able to take out of the budget considering five per cent of the proposed 8.42 per cent increase is due to the $93,000 funding cut from the province.