SOUTH RIVER – Township of Machar council is pleased with their 2012 budget, with landfill and roads monopolizing a large part of their budget.
“Our goal is always to be comparable to the annual inflation rate, which is 2.9 per cent and we’ve come in at 2.74 (levy increase),” said Mayor Doug Maeck. “I think we’ve got a really good responsible budget.”
The Township operating budget for 2012 totals $1,443,582 with expenditures totalling $2,222,288.
The overall levy for municipal purposes increased by 5 per cent over last year, according to minutes of the July 13, 2011 meeting, council adopted a overall tax levy of $1,370,771.
Overall, when the provincial education tax is calculated in, property taxes in Machar are going up by 2.74 per cent – the standard measure used by almost all municipalities in Ontario.
“The overall levy will change by 2.7 per cent to address the budget requirements for this year,” stated Maeck in a press statement. “The effect on an individual’s property tax will vary depending on its assessment. If the property assessment remained unchanged, the property tax would decrease by 4.2 per cent.”
Revenues are anticipated at $778,706, which include grants, the landfill and nearly $235,000 in reserves and surplus.
“A large part of our budget is our roads and landfill, that’s our principal business out here but we’re spending a lot on administration as well,” said Maeck.
The Township will incorporate winter maintenance on a section of Bray Lake that was brought up to standard by the local ratepayers last year.
“Bray Lake is important to us because that’s where our potential waterfront development is,” he said. “The more we do to get the road out to Bray Lake area fixed up the better our chances to increase our tax base.”
Council will continue to search for funding from the federal and provincial levels of government to upgrade the access into Mikisew Provincial Park and the Hockey Opportunity Camp.
Surface treatment will be done to part of Scarlet Road and some culvert replacements throughout the township are scheduled for this year.
They have budged nearly $896,000 for capital and maintenance budget, including winter maintenance, and about $200,000 set aside for the purchase of a new plow truck.
“That’s the big part of our budget right now,” he said.
They will be creating a barrier-free office space to meet provincial accessibility legislation for their office which was built back in the seventies, budgeting about $150,000 of their $402,000 administration budget on the project. He says they have applied, but don’t know whether they will be receiving grant money to help cover the costs.
“We’ve committed funds in partnership with South River, Sundridge and Strong Township to promote the economic development of our area. We’re in the midst of the update to our Official Plan and Zoning bylaw,” stated Maeck in a release.
Maeck says the biggest challenge they faced when developing the budget for 2012 were the fixed costs set by the province.
“When you have the health unit up 3.9 per cent, ambulance went up 12 per cent this year. District Social services, 2.8; Eastholme, 5.5,” he said. “We have no control over those costs.”
Social services in 2012 are costing more than $165,000.
The Township of Machar also has joint costs with the Village of South River for the fire department, arena and the library, which Maeck says, require capital projects, salary and unionized staff. The fire budget increased by 5.6 per cent, the arena by 11.4 and the library, 7.6 per cent.
“And you have the volunteer fire people who need to get paid and those things go up as well,” he said.
He says they were fortunate and pleased with their allotment of $346,000 from the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund received this year.
“That goes a long way. I’m very worried next year because we’ve got information from the province that tells us that partnership fund will be reduced next year and the following year,” he said. “That’s why we’re trying doing what we can with what we’ve got this year.”
He says they have had a little increased revenue as well as some surplus, which means they have a good budget to work from. Without these, he says they wouldn’t be tackling the office renovations this year.