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Town budget holds the line

The Financial Plan was presented in a public hearing on May 12. The 2015 mill rates are generally down, but less than a point, which means ratepayers will pay slightly less in taxes this year.

The Financial Plan was presented in a public hearing on May 12. The 2015 mill rates are generally down, but less than a point, which means ratepayers will pay slightly less in taxes this year.

The exceptions are “a few properties where new curb and gutter work (on Kenderdine), means that levies are added,” explains Mayor Jeff McConnell.
 
Local Improvement District (LID) No. 1, will see their mill rate drop from 24.02 mills to 23.39.

Properties annexed, now located in LID at Large, and LID No. 2 will pay 26.05 mills, down from 26.78 in 2014. These rates include the amounts for local improvement plan borrowing (debenture
repayment).

A total tax levy from ratepayers in the Town of Virden of $5,531,208 includes nearly $1.88 million for education to FLBSD. The other two thirds of taxation, $3.65 million, is for the municipal budget.

Besides taxation, other revenue of $2,143,352 comes from license fees, permit fees, fines, rentals, charges for the sale of services; the soils facility, interest income and government grants (such as the gas tax rebate).

Nearly $2.5 million from accumulated surplus and reserves ($51,856) is transferred into this year’s budget. With municipal and school taxation, the Town’s balanced budget for 2015 is $8.285
million. In municipal expenditures, the largest budget item is for Fiscal Services, at $1.637 million.

This includes capital assets – sewage treatment and water treatment upgrades, general and utility capital debt servicing, and tax prepayment discounts. Transfers from specific reserves accounts
for nearly $457,000 of fiscal spending.

Recreation and Cultural Services will cost $1.473 million. Transportation Services are budgeted at $1.315 million. Within the transportation budget, up to $125,000 is budgeted to deal with storm
sewer and drainage issues.

The capital budget shows the projects that the Town of Virden has planned for 2015. Accounting software will cost over $96,000. The recreation facility and grounds budget is for $78,000. Industrial Park Road (and hydro) is budgeted at $149,200. Land purchased for resale, $300,000.

A new loader and snow blade will cost over $86,000. GIS and GPS budget is $14,000 and drainage and improvements are scheduled at $20,000. These, along with other costs, will be paid for
through the general fund.

The budgeted amount for the new senior ball diamond is $40,000, with $23,143 of that coming from the general fund. General governmental services budget of $914,554 includes office staff salaries, councillors indemnities, office and accounting costs and the like, including grants to organizations.

Wastewater Treatment Phase II of the Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade shows up on the budget document at $4 million, to be borne by borrowing. Repayment is not shown on this year’s budget. That amount is the one-third share of the cost that the residents of Virden will pay.

Phase I, initiated in 2014, is complete and Mayor McConnell is adamant that Phase II of this project must go forward, given the environmental requirements and Virden’s need
to expand.

However, the Town has not received any word from the federal and provincial governments concerning when their portion of funding will come through. Mc- Connell adds that the
forward without that partnership funding.

CAO Rhonda Stewart explains the inclusion of the $4 million in the budget saying, “If we are planning to start the [Wastewater Phase II] project in 2015, it should really show up on the financial plan,
so the public is aware that it may be occurring.”

The Town will hold a Public Hearing when they know if and when the project is proceeding. One ratepayer, Travis Penner, attended the Financial Plan Hearing.

With no questions from the public, and a brief discussion among Councillors, the financial by-law passed first and second readings later that evening.

Town finances are regularly handled by a committee of the whole, so Councillors were well-acquainted with the proposed budget by the date of the Hearing.

The budget by-law passed third reading at a special meeting on Wednesday, May 13.