Brooke Alvinston’s revenue problem

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Brooke-Alvinston is cutting its spending by three per cent this year, but taxpayers are still likely to see their taxes jump in the double digits.

Councillors got their first look at the proposed 2017 budget and were stunned see the amount of money coming into the municipality dropped by over $717,000. If councillors would approve the budget as it stands, the tax increase would be over 28 per cent. But that’s not about to happen. Mayor Don McGugan says he’s baffled by the numbers but says council is committed to finding some savings.

“There will be some form of tax increase – what it is I don’t know but it will certainly not be that,” he told The Independent.

The draft budget calls for spending of about $5.1 million dollars, about $154,000 less than last year. Capital spending is budgeted for about $1.57 million.

But revenues are way down. The provincial government reduced the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grant by nearly $130,000 and the municipality hasn’t been able to secure funding for big capital projects like it did last year when it rebuilt roads in Inwood.

Often municipalities use their reserve savings to help lower the impact of big projects to taxpayers. Treasurer Steve Ikert told councillors there is money in reserves but he wouldn’t advise them to only find the money there.

McGugan agrees. “I don’t know where we go from here, but we can’t deplete all our reserves.”

Council begins finding solutions in March 6.

Here are some of the highlights of the budget:

*About $300,000 has been set aside for a new snow plow for the municipality. It has been a priority item for a number of years but has been cut in the past during budget.

* The cost of waste and recycling drops two per cent.

*$112,000 may be spent to upgrade the water tower which is needed to provide fire protection in Alvinston.

*$120,000 is set aside to finish the paving on four streets which were reconstructed in Inwood last year.

*$105,000 will be used to replace three major culverts.

*The Alvinston Fire Department plans to spend $25,700 on new auto extraction equipment. Some of that cost will be covered by fundraising.

*The cost of running the fire departments will go up $61,630. Alvinston is looking to spend 11 per cent more, while the Inwood department has budgeted for a 31 per cent increase in spending.

*Brooke-Alvinston has $2,710,310 in reserves but plans to add just $3,000 to the savings this year. That amount will be set aside to pay for the next municipal election.

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