Draft budget calls for 8.12% tax increase

A 2008 draft budget reviewed last week by Mapleton council calls for a tax increase of 8.12 per cent.
But Mayor John Green and Director of Finance Mike Giv­ens expect there will be major  changes before the final budget is approved.
On March 11, Givens provided council with a 73-page line-by-line breakdown of the proposed budget, which, as it stands, means increasing the township levy by over $254,000, resulting in the 8.12% tax increase.
By comparison, the 2007 levy increase was just $62,102, up 2.4% over 2006. And be­cause of assessment growth in Mapleton, the township portion of local tax bills was actually down 0.07% last year.
When asked if he knows of any major cuts to the proposed budget, Givens said, “I have been given no direction at all at this point, but I suspect that’s why it was pushed back.”
Originally township officials expected the budget to be passed on March 25, but now it will be delayed at least until council’s first meeting in April.
Givens said he will likely receive direction on how to proceed with the budget at next week’s meeting so he has time to complete any necessary changes by April 8.
“I suspect there will be maj­or changes,” he added.
The mayor confirmed that suspicion on March 14.
Green said he has not yet taken a hard look at the draft budget, but 8% is too high for council’s tastes, not to mention  those of the taxpayers.
He explained the draft budget is “a wish list presented to us by staff. Coun­cil has got to make it a rea­sonable in­crease everyone can live with.”
Capital budget
Proposed capital costs in the 2008 draft budget total just under $2.16-million, including:
– over $1-million for the PMD Arena expansion;
– $300,000 for the completion of the medical building in Drayton;
– $159,500 to complete the Denstedt Bridge project;
– $100,000 to rebuild the 14th Line;
– $65,000 for a new humidifier at the PMD Arena;
– $62,000 to complete road projects in Alma;
– $45,000 for roof repairs at the municipal office; and
– $35,000 for a skid steer for the roads department.
At the meeting last week, councillor Mike Downey questioned what he perceived to be a high price tag for the humidifier, roof repairs, and new skid steer.