Minto proposes $7.2-million capital budget; projected levy increase is 4.9%

Taxpayers here can expect to pay about three per cent more in 2016.

That’s the approximate average increase town officials are anticipating, when the local tax rate is blended with projected Wellington County and education tax rates.

With a budget theme of “Stay the infrastructure course,” the focus of council’s second budget session on Jan. 19 was a proposed $7.42-million dollar capital budget.

Of that total, if approved, $500,000 will come from 2016 tax dollars, with the rest funded through a combination of federal and provincial grant funding ($1.56 million), development charges and reserves ($1.04 million), borrowing ($1.42 million, including $760,000 in new borrowing), unspent 2015 capital ($2.25 million) and other revenues ($640,000).

The capital funds are expected to be allocated to water and sewer ($2.65 million), roads and drainage ($3.17 million) and vehicles ($135,000), leaving $1.49 million for other town departments.

The net impact of the budget as it stands, blended with projected county and education rates, is expected to be in the range of 3%. That works out to around $90 for the average residential ratepayer in a home valued at $208,000, says Minto treasurer Gordon Duff.

Duff said the town’s projected local levy increase will be 4.9%, up from 3% when the operating budget was reviewed on Nov. 24. If current projections hold, the town will raise $4,579,101 through taxation this year – $215,875 more than in 2015.

The increase from November projections is attributed to adding $100,000 in tax-supported dollars to the capital plan to support current grant applications.

The town has applied for Connecting Link funding, for engineering design only, for full reconstruction of Elora Street from Park Street to West Heritage Street in Clifford ($400,000), and moved to the second stage in Small Communities Fund and Ontario Community Investment Fund grant applications for the Brunswick Street pumping station and street reconstruction in Palmerston ($2.5 million), and Jane/Inkerman Street reconstruction in Palmerston ($1.6 million).

Mayor George Bridge noted, “We have moved to the second stage in two grant applications when many municipalities in our area had not. To receive that money we need to provide our share. It is important the town take advantage of these opportunities and take care of our infrastructure according to plans.”

Between 2011 and 2015 Minto completed $20 million in capital work over four years. Town officials say over $21 million of work is needed from 2016 to 2020 to meet the municipality’s asset management goals.

Other major 2016 projects include finishing reconstruction of Elora Street in Harriston from William to Arthur Street, for $945,000; two blocks of Ann Street in Clifford, $430,000; finishing James Street in Palmerston, $658,000; and resurfacing the last half of Minto 6th Line, $283,000.

Minto Fire’s purchase of a 2004 aerial truck and 2016 tanker cost a combined $555,000. The town’s water and sewer utility truck will cost $90,000 less a trade-in. There are funds for facility repairs in all three urban areas and new entrance signs for Clifford and Palmerston.

At the November budget session, council was informed water and sewer revenue dropped below projections since water meters were installed. Early in 2016 council will reconsider rates to make sure the total cost of water and sewer services is paid for by users.

Finance chair Mary Lou Colwell noted “many people have responded to metered water and sewer rates and by conserving, have much lower bills than the old flat rate. The challenge is to keep fair rates and ensure there is enough revenue to pay for the system.”

A public open house on the budget is set for March 15 from 5 to 6:30pm in the council chamber at the municipal office, 5941 Highway 89, Harriston.  Members of council, the CAO/Clerk and department heads will be available at this come-and-go-style event. Any member of the public may attend to discuss the budget proposal.

Budget summary reports and presentations to council, budget meeting minutes, and video recordings of the meetings are available at The budget meeting files can be reviewed in the town office during regular hours between 8:30am and 5pm.

Subject to public input, council is expected to consider final budget approval at its next meeting following the open house.

Duff said the draft budget presentation figures currently posted on the town’s website will be very close to the figures presented at the public meeting.

“It’s going to be close to it … there’s always some information that comes in later in the year, up or down and by then we’ll have a better idea of what our 2015 year-end turns out to be and maybe even which direction the county and education tax rates go,” Duff said.