Dysart takes detailed look at 2016 budget

By Angelica Ingram

The following are brief reports of items discussed at a March 7 and March 10 special meetings of Dysart et al council.

Municipal staff and councillors took a hard look at the financial numbers at a special meeting of council held last Thursday.

Treasurer Barbara Swannell told council Dysart had accrued a $320000 surplus from 2015 (pending audit adjustments) and that the money was mostly generated from the roads department using less money than it had budgeted for and other departments such as the building department bringing in additional revenue.

The treasurer suggested taking the surplus and using it to fund the operations deficit for the 2016 budget.

Swannell proposed a 9.7 per cent increase on the tax levy which for residential taxes would result in $247.37 per $100000 assessment.

For commercial rates the levy would mean $366.77 per $100000 assessment and for industrial the taxes would amount to $425 per $100000 assessment.

The treasurer pointed to policing costs as one of the biggest factors to impact the budget as well as an increase in infrastructure expenses and fewer grants coming in.

“It’s really tough to get grant money today” she said. “The criteria is becoming very specific.”

She went on to say there are no federal grant opportunities at this time.

The draft budget for 2016 estimates revenues and expenses to come in at just over $13.3 million.

The largest expense is transportation services ringing in at almost $4.2 million. Protective services and environmental services are almost tied for second with both costing around $2.7 million.

The largest funding stream for the municipality is taxation accounting for almost 55 per cent of revenue.

Swannell said the 2016 budget includes $683000 to go towards debt repayment and that at the end of this year the reserve balance will be at $2.7 million.

Last year’s reserves decreased by $143000.

Councillors lamented how rising costs were making it harder for small municipalities to take on projects as they are just trying to keep up with operating and infrastructure expenses.

Council has not yet passed the budget.

Abbey Gardens moving forward on expansion
The wheels of growth keep turning at local food initiative Abbey Gardens in West Guilford as council approved the execution of a site plan agreement with the operation on March 7.

The agreement allows for the construction of a brewery (larger than the current one) a commercial building (to house existing business Haliburton Solar & Wind) and a drive shed.

According to municipal planning director Pat Martin’s report to council the Ministry of Transportation has approved the site plan agreement.

Reeve Murray Fearrey said he was pleased to see the site plan agreement which was approved by council.

Abbey Gardens director of operations Heather Reid expressed her appreciation to council for all the support and said there was still “a long way to go.”