By Chad Ingram
Minden Hills council and staff continue to whittle away at the township’s 2021 budget, and had a third round of budget discussions during a Jan. 28 meeting.
While the direction from council during its second round of budget discussions had been for staff to get the tax levy increase for the year down to 3.65 per cent, “We managed to get it below that,” finance director Lorrie Blanchard said, explaining the levy increase in the third draft budget was 2.94 per cent.
That would mean the tax rate increase itself would be 2.27 per cent, which for a residential property would mean an increase from $3.73 to $3.81 per every $1,000 of assessment.
Council directed that some new staffing positions that had been included in the draft budget be removed, and will receive a fourth draft budget at a later meeting.
The budget contains a substantial amount of borrowing – the third draft budget included some $7.4 million in public works projects that staff were recommending be funded through debenture.
“I’ll eat my shirt if there isn’t 100 other rural municipalities that are in the exact same position we are,” said Mayor Brent Devolin with regard to the financial strain caused by aging infrastructure.
Borrowing substantial amounts to pay for projects is uncommon for the township, and Councillor Pam Sayne has repeatedly expressed concern about funding through debenture.
“I’m very concerned we’re almost using that debenture as through it’s a credit card,” Sayne said.