By Chad Ingram
Published Feb. 23 2017
Algonquin Highlands township is adding a full-time clerk to its staff roster and turning a formerly part-time position in the park rec and trails department into a full-time one with its 2017 budget.
Councillors for the township held two days of budget talks on Feb. 15 and 16.
The 2017 budget represents a 7.7 per cent increase over the 2016 tax levy with a total of approximately $4.7 million to be levied through taxation.
Five per cent of that tax levy increase – or about $223000 – is the result of the yearly rise in the township’s OPP bill.
That increase brings Algonquin Highlands’ OPP bill for 2017 to more than $960000.
This is the third year of five-year phase-in of a new OPP billing formula that redistributes total OPP costs throughout the province on a per-household basis. The province considers cottages to be households. Because the OPP cost increases are out of municipal control local councils opt to pass that price increase directly to taxpayers each year.
The remaining 2.7 per cent of the tax levy increase is for municipal purposes. Algonquin Highlands is in the process of hiring a full-time clerk a new position for which about $70000 has been allocated. Council also decided to make a position in the parks rec and trails department that has previously been part-time for part of the year into a full-time position at a cost of $15000.
Councillors believe having an additional full-time employee in the department will allow the township to increase its trails revenues.
Facing a shortfall of approximately $280000 council whittled that amount down to about $30000.
“We’ve been haggling department heads for $1000 here $1000 there” said Reeve Carol Moffatt explaining the money was largely found through small reductions in various areas of the township budget.
Councillors also decided to go to fewer conferences for the year and increased anticipated revenues through building permits and planning fees.
“We’ve been conservative in budgeting revenues” Moffatt said adding that historically the revenues attained through these avenues ends up being more than budgeted for.
About $19000 will be spent to upgrade the drinking water system at the municipal complex along North Shore Road where iron levels have left the water unfit for consumption. There will be a new landing and docks at Kawagama Lake and the completion of the addition at the municipal office on North Shore Road a project that was paused after the contractor defaulted on the job last year.
The largest single item in the budget is roads for which approximately $1.8 million is allocated.