By Chad Ingram
Minden Hills councillors discussed the township’s 2020 budget again during a Jan. 30 meeting and the municipality will take out a loan for the completion of some roads projects.
The township will borrow $1.95 million for roads and bridge projects in 2020. That includes borrowing $400000 for the rehabilitation of the Sunnybrook bridge in downtown Minden; $230000 for drainage work along Shetland Road; $10000 for work on the Milburn Road bridge; and $160000 toward the rehabilitation of the Sedgwick Road bridge.
The latter project has an estimated cost of nearly $1 million and the township has applied for $800000 worth of provincial and federal grant funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program for its completion.
Should the township be unsuccessful with that grant application then the issue of what to do about the Sedgwick Road bridge which will require regular engineering inspections will come back to the council table.
The township will also borrow $775000 for repaving along Bobcaygeon Road and $375000 for the reconstruction of IGA Road. Some of these projects also include much smaller additional amounts from reserves and overall the 2020 budget pulls nearly $1 million out of the township’s reserves.
“The township is accomplishing quite a bit of work through a debenture here” public works director Travis Wilson said although adding the amount of money otherwise allotted for roads work in the budget is actually $167000 less than 2019 and that that funding level had been frozen from the previous year. Wilson has repeatedly advised council that a backlog of roads work will have costly implications for the township in future years.
Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell wondered if some more funds could not be found somewhere to mitigate a spike in roads costs that may come in succeeding years.
“It’s the one thing that people see that their taxes go towards” Schell said.
Since the roads work for the year will already entail loans and drawing on reserves Mayor Brent Devolin said the only way he saw that happening was through an additional increase in the tax levy.
“The reality is if we want to do that option it’s going to go straight to the taxpayer” Devolin said.
Councillors made no change to the bottom line draft property tax increase during last week’s meeting. The tax levy increase is sitting at 5.3 per cent which translates to a tax rate increase of 2.15 per cent.
For a residential property with an assessed value of $300000 in 2019 with a three per cent phased-in assessment increase this would equate to an increase in taxes of $57.08 for the year. Property taxes are calculated by multiplying the tax rate by the assessed valued of a property according to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.
That is for the lower-tier portion of residents’ tax bills. Tax bills include a lower-tier portion upper-tier portion as well as taxes collected for the school board. Haliburton County council passed the 2020 county budget late last month with a 1.67 per cent tax rate increase. For residential properties the tax increase translates to an additional $3.52 for every $100000 of assessment. So the owner of a home assessed at $300000 would pay an additional $10.46 at the upper tier for the year.
The next step in Minden Hills’ budgeting process will be a public meeting on Feb. 13.