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Lambton Shores zeroes in on tax rate target

LAMBTON SHORES ' Lambton Shores council has served notice to its staff that this year's local municipal tax rate must be no higher than last year's.The zero per cent order requires a line-by-line review of the first draft of an operating budget that proposes expenditures of nearly $19.4 million. That would be a spending increase of 4.72 per cent over 2010 but would require collection of $8.3 million in property taxes, a year-to-year hike of 8.24 per cent, according to chief administrative officer John Byrne. Increases in assessed property values and growth assessment suggest the 2011 residential tax rate would have had to rise by less than one percent (0.95 per cent) if no cuts were made.The order to shave operating expenditures was delivered last week at the conclusion of  a second session of wading through another part of the proposed $18,758,764 capital works program for this year. Council voted Feb. 15 to proceed with tender calls and requests for proposals for some of the capital projects. Mayor Bill Weber suggested that going to the market early will find some hungry contractors and save some money on asphalt.A major item in that fishing expedition is reconstruction of Thedford's Allen Street, the badly battered roadway that leads to an arena and community centre that remains out of service during a lengthy and costly rebuild. $566,475 is the estimated cost of Allen's base and asphalt, new sanitary sewer and larger watermain, sidewalks and storm drainage works.Also going to early tender are the completion of Grand Bend's Gill Road reconstruction, the year's supply of gravel and dust control, one tonne and five tonne trucks, a tractor to operate the Grand Bend beach cleaner and Grand Bend Highway 21 bridge safety railings. The next budget session is scheduled for March 9 at 2 p.m. in the lower level meeting room in The Shores Recreation Centre at Forest.Lambton Shores ratepayers appear to be in line for a bigger break on the county portion of their property tax bills. Lambton County council on Feb. 16 received management's draft 2011 budget which proposes a 5.38 per cent decrease in the residential tax rate supporting an overall (0.73 per cent) spending increase of just under $1.2 million.Preceding budget deliberations at Lambton Shores council's Feb. 15 session was presentation of a consulting firm's road needs study "final" report which recommends spending of $2 million per year ' $1.5 million for resurfacing and $500,000 for reconstruction ' over the next five years. Members voted to receive the report presented by Mick Oliveira, project manager for McCormick Rankin Corporation.The amount of recent construction has reduced the overall needs, said Oliveira. Recommended for upgrades from gravel to hard surface are either Army Camp Road or Jericho Road among north-south routes and Cedar Point Line as an east-west priority.

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