Brooke-Alvinston taxpayers will pay 5.48 per cent more for municipal services.
The municipal council agreed to the $4.5 million budget Monday. Treasurer Joe McMillian says the main problem is falling revenues, particularly the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grant. This year, the province gave Brooke-Alvinston $220,000 less.
Council had also agreed to purchase two new fire vehicles, a fire truck in Alvinston and a rescue vehicle in Inwood, at a cost of nearly $500,000 before the budget was struck.
McMillian says there was a bit of new money since the cost of policing dropped by $47,100 with the new OPP model. But the municipality still had to find $120,000 to bring the tax rate down to 2014 levels. Monday, the council found about half of that.
Mayor Don McGugan says the department hardest by budget cuts is roads. Public works had already committed to spending about $150,000 less than 2014. “We will be doing no tar and chip this year and no asphalt,” he says. McGugan says they’ve placed $50,000 aside for engineering work for three streets in Inwood, which will be done over three years starting in 2016.
McGugan says the township will contribute $15,000 to the reserves of the Alvinston and Inwood fire department; the plan was to contribute $20,000. Another $3,000 savings was found on capital purchases at the Alvinston department.
The municipalities recreational and cultural programs remained unchanged in the 2015 budget and some capital projects will be completed including new fencing for safety at the ball diamond at the community centre and renovations upstairs at the municipal building for a new cultural program.
And McGugan says there is $15,000 in the budget for new playground equipment in Inwood.
The 5.48 per cent municipal tax increase works out to about $37.40 more for every $100,000 of assessment. However, taxpayers won’t fork out that much more. The increase on the total property tax bill is $29.40 since the Lambton County portion of the taxes has been frozen and the education levy has dropped 4 per cent.