By Mike Williscraft
West Lincoln Twp. council approved a 5.63 per cent tax increase to ratepayers Monday night.
The impact is $67 for each home with an average assessed value of $364,000.
The move, according to Mayor Dave Bylsma took care of some long overdue infrastructure issues as well as some unexpected expenses, while looking ahead.
Rural road and bridge repair has been a long-standing sore point for many. Four bridges are slated for updating this year, two of those were supposed to be done in 2018, but were bumped.
Other new costs include IT/maintenance, a customer service/admin clerk, library programming and three new West Lincoln Community Centre staff.
The latter was a sore point for Bylsma the last couple of years as staffing costs at the WLCC was an item never factored in by the previous council.
“Historically, I was the only one raising the issue of staffing but never received any answers. It was one of the main reasons I never voted for it,” said Bylsma, noting that impact on the levy alone is 1.75 per cent.
“Overall, if you subtract the five per cent we inherited (on the WLCC), it’s a great budget with a great focus on rural infrastructure.”
In terms of any other unexpected suprises, Bylsma said the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund contribution came in at $915,000, from $954,000, “so some downloading happened there,” he added.
On the upside, Bylsma said a strategic plan is in the works to review how best to use provincial and federal windfall monies, $725,000 and $400,000 respectively.
“I’m pleased with the work that staff put into this document. It reflects balance and responsibility to meet current and future needs of WL,” said Bylsma, noting the township would have been in a surplus budget if not for the additional five per cent obligation of the WLCC.