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Another property tax hike
Northern News Services
Published Friday, December 11, 2009
That was the figure city council was left with after wrapping up its line-by-line review of the 2010 budget Wednesday night, which council will vote on next Tuesday. The draft budget unveiled last month called for a 5.95 per cent increase.
Council was able to reduce the increase slightly by cutting $25,000 from its $100,00 contingency fund, and slashing $25,000 from IT training.
If the tax increase stays the same, this represents an $80 increase next year for the average property assessment of $200,000. It will also be the highest property tax increase since rates began to climb annually in 2005 following a three-year hiatus in tax hikes. The bad news doesn't end with next year's increase. The city is still planning to hike property taxes even higher in 2011 to 6.95 per cent, and 3.51 in 2012.
"The budget has an increase in taxes requested. Part of that is due to several years of not having any increases and trying to catch up. Part of it is just due to the economy of the time," said Mayor Gord Van Tighem.
Taxes went up 1.8 per cent in 2005, 2.47 per cent in 2006, 3.7 per cent in 2007, 2.98 per cent in 2008 and 3.93 per cent in 2009 but they didn't go up in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
"What you're looking at is the city continuing to provide the services that it provides," said Van Tighem.
"What you're looking at is an investment to ensure that the city doesn't go into trouble in infrastructure replacement and the city facilities don't fall apart.
"One of the contributors to the increase is that after an accident a couple of years ago, we've increased our fire department for safety purposes. This year, we will be moving into the first operational year with the new fieldhouse."
The city will also invest $1.254 million to replace its fleet of pick-up trucks, graders, snowmobiles and heavy equipment, for instance. It will also spend $1.525 million on various road rehabilitation projects, with $1.115 million of that money spent on paving 535 meters of Haener Drive.
The city will also replace the corrugated metal pipe on a portion of Gitzel and Matonabee Streets at a cost of $2.5 million, which includes repaving the streets. It will also spend $105,000 on upgrading the traffic lights at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Old Airport Road.
Other major capital projects include $1.549 million on a new three-cell salvaging area at the dump, and $3.44 million on a new water treatment plant and reservoir expansion. This project is to be done in phases, with planning, logistics and detailed engineering finished in 2010.
The water, sewer and solid waste management user fees will increase by 5 per cent but exactly where it will be applied still needs to be determined. Also, unionized employees at the city will see their salary increase by 6.5 per cent, firefighters' salaries will increase by 6 per cent and management, including non-unionized and municipal enforcement employees, will see their salary go up 5 per cent.