/Taxes up 6.6 per cent in Minden Hills 

Taxes up 6.6 per cent in Minden Hills 

By Chad Ingram

Residential property taxes in Minden Hills are increasing 6.6 per cent for 2016.

Councillors for the township approved the 2016 budget during a March 9 meeting.

The budget totals $12.23 million nearly $7 million of which will be raised through taxation an increase of 9.837 per cent over the 2015 tax levy.

This will translate to a 6.6 per cent tax rate increase for residential properties. So while residents paid $3.01 for every $1000 of assessment to Minden Hills in 2015 they will pay $3.21 per $1000 of assessment in 2016.

Residents also pay taxes to the upper tier of Haliburton County and the school board.

About two thirds of levy increase – 6.24 per cent – is attributed to a $391000 jump in township’s OPP bill. Policing costs for Minden Hills will spike from approximately $1.4 to $1.8 million this year during the second 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.

Because those cost increases are out of municipal control Minden Hills council and the councils of Haliburton County’s other lower-tier townships all of which are getting walloped by the new formula have chosen to pass those increases directly to the taxpayer.

The township portion of the levy increase including nearly one per cent in growth is 3.6 per cent.

General government – administrative salaries etc. – will cost approximately $1.79 million. Protective services which includes the OPP requisition will total approximately $2.7 million. Transportation services – represented largely by the roads department budget – will cost $3.1 million. Environmental services – which includes the operation of the township’s landfills water and sewer systems – will cost just less than $2 million.

Health services will cost just less than $100000 planning and development just less than $400000 and recreation and culture which includes the operation of the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena Minden Hills Community Centre and Minden Hills Cultural Centre will cost more than $2.1 million.

Despite outcry from the arts community including members of the Minden Hills Cultural Centre Foundation a $50000 cut to the cultural centre remains in the final budget.

The cultural centre includes the Agnes Jamieson Gallery Minden Hills Museum and interpretative centre Nature’s Place.

That cut drops the cultural centre’s budget from approximately $340000 to approximately $290000. three students positions one at each of the Agnes Jamieson Gallery Nature’s Place and the Minden Hills Museum will be eliminated. There will be a reduction in programming dollars at all three facilities conference and education funding will be removed and there will be a reduction of hours for relief staff from a total of 2066 to 1462. There are also reduced supply expenses for the museum and Nature’s Place.

With flatlining attendance in recent years Reeve Brent Devolin has said he can longer justify the cost of the cultural centre to taxpayers.

Devolin has said he’d like to see another $50000 taken out of the centre’s budget next year.

“This is not fun sometimes making decisions as best we can” Devolin said as council passed the budget.

Water and sewer rates for both residents of Minden village and Lutterworth Pines will not increase for 2016.

The reeve has said residents should brace themselves for more years of tax increases as the phase-in of the OPP billing formula continues.