Hawkesbury council during a meeting.

Hawkesbury approves budget estimates

This year’s budget in Hawkesbury will see residential taxes increase, and commercial and industrial taxes decrease while the municipality tightens its operating budget.

The budget was approved at a regular council meeting on Monday, April 10. Councillor Michel Thibodeau said council had to deal with less-than-ideal circumstances during budget discussions this year. Growth in the town in 2016 was low, about a quarter of one per cent, and this year the town’s property evaluations decreased by one per cent overall, he said. In addition, an appeal to MPAC by big box stores will cost the town about $500,000 in tax revenue.

Despite that lost revenue, overall revenue from taxes in Hawkesbury will increase by .58 per cent over what was budgeted last year, for a total of $10,358,630. Thibodeau said the residential taxes will increase by about 1.25 per cent, translating into an increase of $7.89 over last year for an average home. However, he said commercial and industrial properties will see their tax bills decrease, by 3.8 and five per cent respectively.

The municipality will spend less on operating expenses, which cover the day-to-day cost of running the municipality, than last year. Total operating expenses will be $20,340,654, or a 3.7 per cent decrease compared with 2016. This meant cuts to almost every department’s overall budget, except for general administration, which will see its operating budget increase by about 23 per cent this year. Some of the biggest savings are coming from decreased policing costs, lower fire department costs (not counting fire dispatch, which will cost more in 2017), and a 28 per cent cut to the Robert Hartley Sports Complex operating budget for 2017.

The municipality has budgeted about $5 million in capital projects for 2017, but much of that cost will be covered by grants or, in the case of water and sewer projects, by user fees. The town will also draw $627,702 from reserves and incur $635,500 in long-term debt to fund the projects.

Hawkesbury will receive almost $2 million in grants from the province, federal government, and others in 2017. Projects covered completely by the provincial Gas Tax grant in 2017 include a traffic study ($52,000) and a road condition study ($52,000) as well as $500,000 worth of road resurfacing. The grant will also cover $100,000 into the study and development of a snow dump, which will cost $300,000 overall.

The town plans to have $4,836,171 saved in reserves at the end of the year – that’s 1.6 per cent less than was in the bank at the end of 2016.

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