By Pauline Kerr
Special to The WHT
South Bruce’s treasurer Kendra Reinhart presented a draft 2013 budget at the April 23 meeting that would see the owner of an average residential property assessed at $183,420 paying 2.5 per cent or $54.68 more in municipal taxes.
The municipal tax rate remains the same, although with changes in assessment, the municipal tax levy of $2,929,088 is up 6.2 per cent.
She recommended council consider an annual tax increase in the range of three to five per cent to its commitment for roads and bridges, “as the infrastructure deficit in this service area is significant...” She further suggested council look at the replacement value of capital assets and how the municipality plans to fund the replacement. “We put aside $1.4 million per year and it should be $1.75 million,” she said.
However, council asked Reinhart to review the budget and do a bit more cutting, and bring it back to council. “Maybe the knife could be a bit sharper,” said Mayor Bill Goetz.
Reinhart replied, “If you want to cut taxes, you’re going to have to cut services,” making note of the “huge increase” in the cost of hydro, the wage increase, and the cost of operations.
Council discussed the possibility of putting more from the paving costs onto the sewer project. However, operations manager Adam Weishar advised against adding to the present figure of $11,400 per unit, citing “unforseen extras” that could increase what individual property owners will end up paying for hooking up to the new sewer system.
The motion to accept the budget was defeated in a recorded vote, with Couns. Bob Buckle, David Wood and Carl Zettel voting for it. Voting against it were councillors Margie Bates, Kelly Fotheringham and Don Schnurr, as well as the mayor.
Reinhart asked council for direction on “where and how” to cut the budget.
Goetz noted $1,047,000 is being spent on roads, and Reinhart asked if council wanted it lowered to below a million dollars, adding, “It’s not enough – we’ve already had to close two bridges.”
A major point of contention is the $2.4 million being borrowed for road work connected with the sewer project. Bates said she didn’t like the idea of “tying up funds for 20 years – five councils.”
The province requires the budget to be submitted by the end of May.
Still no solution
Teeswater resident Flora Nabrotzky made a tearful plea for council to “do something” about the new LED street lights that she claims have had a devastating impact on her health and business. “I’m really suffering,” she said. “It’s a daily struggle.”
Mayor Bill Goetz said, “We’re still working on it... we’d like to get it settled.” He said a decision would be made “when all the cards are on the table. They’re not.”