Town council brings down $15.4 million budget
PETAWAWA – Facing the pressure to maintain its critical infrastructure while providing core services, council brought down a $15.4 million budget Monday night.
Residential property owners can expect municipal taxes to increase by approximately $12 per $100,000 in assessment over last year. The 2018 average assessed residence of $243,500, up from $239,750 in 2017, will be subject to an additional $42 in lower tier tax levy.
Delivering the budget address, Mayor Bob Sweet thanked treasurer Annette Mantifel and chief administrative Officer Dan Scissons for leading council and staff through a budgeting process that require tough decisions to be made.
“Council and staff have worked diligently to prepare this budget maintaining a foundation of sustainable financial planning while never compromising the service demands of our residents,” said Sweet. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of staff, we have been presented with spending plans that reflect our core value of fiscal responsibility.”
The current value assessment returned on the roll for the 2018 taxation initially exceeded $1.89 billion and represented a 1.47 per cent increase over last year. The total, based on a 2016 valuation date, reflects the second year of the four-year phase-in of reassessment increases from the 2012 base year. The town's weighted net assessment growth is 1.3 per cent. During deliberations, council managed to trim more than $1.6 million to balance the budget.
On the revenue side of the budget, Sweet said the town has faced challenges that impact their ability to meet the increasing costs associated with service delivery. The continued reduction in the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, down another 15 per cent from last year and representing a total decrease in funding support of $82,600, together with the costs associated with meeting new minimum wage and other Bill 148 employment standards has contributed to an increase in the town tax levy.
“Council has worked determinedly to minimize this increase, acknowledging that residential property owners bear the major share of any additional financial burden,” said Sweet. “Residents of our community can expect a continued commitment to effective and efficient delivery of municipal services and programs.”
The mayor added that the budget will provide funding for a number of capital projects, all within restricted anticipated tax and user rates and in keeping with the pay-as-you-go philosophy that ensues the town does not go into debt financing.
Total road infrastructure spending for 2018 is estimated at $2.5 million on capital projects such as a second phase of Mary Street reconstruction, Norman and Edith streets, a portion of Schwanz Road and a final lift of asphalt on Black Bay Road between Industrial Avenue and Carla Street. As well, a second phase of the multi-year rehabilitation of Achray Road in partnership with Laurentian Valley will be completed. Additional money has been set aside for design work for the future rehabilitation of Hilda and Laura Streets and Lisa Crescent.
Completion of an active transportation plan and future development in the town along the Algonquin Trail are also planned in this budget cycle. Council will be making investments in the town's vehicle and equipment inventory including the replacement of a half-ton truck and a service van and an $85,000 transfer to reserves towards the purchase of a new trackless MT6 for the Public Works Department.
Significant investments in the town's recreation facilities will be addressed in this year’s budget. Council is setting aside $100,000 towards the replacement of the Civic Centre's arena floor. So far, $624,357 has been placed in reserves for the project which is anticipated to be completed in 2020. The budget will fund upgrades to a number of infrastructure in area parks and significant property maintenance at Petawawa Point to improve the boat launch, and create additional parking. The parking lot at Norman Behnke Hall will be paved, while a study on the rehabilitation of the aging Catwalk will be completed. Council is also planning cosmetic renovations to the Civic Centre upper hall washrooms and the washrooms at the Kinhut.
“These budgets reflect council’s commitment to ensuring that this growth is supported by appropriate investments in our infrastructure and capital assets,” concluded Sweet. “I am confident that the spending program introduced will reinforce our focus on financial sustainability and excellence in customer service.”