SCUGOG: Councillors made further modifications to the municipal Operating and Capital Budget on Monday, Feb. 8, bringing the residential tax increase down to 1.2 per cent.
At the meeting, Council was shown a revised budget that included a residential tax increase of 1.99 per cent, and had a final chance to make changes before the budget open house being held on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
One of those changes was a motion by Ward 5 Councillor Jennifer Back to take $75,000 extra from a 2014 budget surplus that was originally meant for the township’s rate stabilization contingency.
“We still have a weak, fragile economy and I want to be able to look my constituents, especially my senior constituents, in the eye and say that I have worked my hardest to make sure that they can afford to stay in the community that they enjoy,” she said.
The Township also set up a temporary 5 per cent floor for any draws from the rate stabilization fund for this year’s budget deliberations after a recommendation from Mayor Tom Rowett. Treasurer Trena Debruijn is currently investigating what kinds of limits other townships have on their reserves, and is expected to make a recommendation to council once she has all the information.
“It creates a clear direction. We’re not just pulling in the dark, there is a policy in place,” Mayor Rowett told The Standard.
As well, Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew made a motion to add $10,000 into the budget for the township to deal with invasive plant species, as well as another $10,000 for Township sidewalk work. Both will be funded through rate stabilization funds.
“The invasive species can cause a real problem with our roads, as the root system travels underneath the roads and breaks them up,” she said. “Although we have made some excellent progress with our sidewalks, I don’t think now is the time to stop. Our seniors in particular need to have a safe walking route.”
The township’s municipal tax increase in the budget had previously been preliminarily set at 3.29 per cent. The open house will take place at the Scugog Memorial Public Library at 6:30 p.m. Following that, council will have a third chance to make changes on Monday, March 7.