Dysart taps taxpayers for 8.9 per cent levy increase in 2023 budget

By James Matthews
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Dysart et al officials anticipate closing the year with a deficit.
The municipality started the process of nailing down spending priorities for the 2023 capital and operational budgets during a special meeting Dec. 9. So far, there’s a tax increase of 8.9 per cent over last year.
It’s only the first draft of the next year’s municipal spending plan.
Owners of residential properties assessed at $100,000 will need an extra $27.50 to cover their property tax bill, or roughly the cost of a pack of cigarettes and a six-pack of beer.
Commercial properties assessed at $100,000 will see an increase of $40.78, while the industrial tax rate could jump an added $47.25.
The residential tax base carries 95 per cent of the assessment. Levies by Haliburton County and for education have yet to be determined.
“Preliminary results are anticipating perhaps a very small deficit,” said treasurer Barbara Swannell. “One area of concern is our landfill.”
Landfill contract services is short about $400,000 because of a larger than anticipated volume of construction and demolition waste. Vendor fees have increased, while tipping fees have been lower than hoped.
“We have a little bit of a storm here,” Swannell said. “Staff are closely watching that.”
She said the town has $1,762,873 in working funds from which any deficit would be serviced.
Swannell said $11.7-million of municipal expenditures are funded by taxes. That’s about 54 per cent of the town’s purse. The total municipal budget is a little more than $20-million, she said.
The provincial government reduced the Ontario Municipal Partnership Funding by $99,000 for 2023. And Swannell said that represents about a one per cent hit on the levy, or an extra $225 taken from the finances of each household.
The town’s projected capital projects next year will cost an extra $2,209,283 over the price tag for work in 2022.
“We’re utilizing more of our municipal reserves to fund some of those capital projects,” Swannell said. “Municipal reserves will fund 46.9 per cent of capital projects.”
Overall expenditures will cost a little more than $21.5-million in 2023, she said.
Regarding the landfill deficit, it was posited that moisture in the construction and demolition waste gained after the material is brought to the dump. The material is weighed when it arrives at the dump and then it’s weighed again before it leaves the landfill.
“We didn’t take the construction waste out the last two years in the winter,” said Mayor Murray Fearrey. “We get three feet of snow on top of it, then it rains for two days, and we pay by the pound.”
The town pays more in the end because of water weight.
John Watson, the town’s environmental manager, said Dysart managed 26 per cent more construction and demolition waste this year than in 2021. But hauling and processing costs jumped 93 per cent in 2022.
“In 2021, we did 103 transport truck loads for the entire year of construction waste,” Watson said. “This year, we’re already at 132 transport truck loads of construction and demolition waste coming out of our three sites that collect that material.”
Senior management collaborated over the last couple of months to set priorities for each municipal department, she said.
Dan Chumbley, the town’s interim fire chief, earmarked $133,870 for volunteer wages, including a 1.75 per cent wage increase. The department will need $36,710 for supplies and equipment, and $9,200 for equipment annual inspections and repairs. Vehicle maintenance is projected to cost $31,000 for the year.
Dysart’s fire department has contracted Highlands East firefighters at a cost of $48,000.
“Highlands East, in particular, covers basically the Harcourt area for us,” Chumbley said. “Just because we would have to travel out through Wilberforce, and our response time would not be acceptable for the protection of our citizens.”
Jeff Iles, the town’s director of planning and land information, outlined a 2023 departmental budget of $441,005 for a 14.7 per cent increase over the $384,515 in the 2022 spending plan. That’s an extra $56,490 for next year.
“The increase basically relates to the full year integration of a staff person that was hired in October,” he said.
Waste Management is projecting to draw $1.4-million in total revenue in 2023.
Watson said Dysart has the lowest tipping fees at the landfill compared to other Haliburton County municipalities. Given that, tipping fees will be increased to $20 and an extra $34,000 will be generated.
Environmental Management asks $3,252,760 for the next year. That’s comprised of $780,590 for staff wages and benefits, $1.5-million for hauling and processing waste, $213,600 for environmental monitoring, and $719,370 for operating expenses.