Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Timmins has a surplus - council still raises taxes

Timmins city council has voted in a 2008 residential property tax rate of 3.19 percent, roughly one third higher than the current rate of inflation.
Council’s vote to hike taxes was made moments after learning there is a budget surplus - - money left over from 2007.
City council’s vote on Monday was not unanimous. Councillor Bill Gvozdanovic stood alone and voted against the tax rate increase.
City hall administration presented council with three options for the tax rate vote.
Option One was a 2.92 per cent increase. Option Two was a 3.19 per cent increase. Option Three was a 3.94 per cent increase. There was no option offered to hold the line at no increase.
The Option Two increase allows council to spend an additional $147,000. This would include making up a revenue shortfall of $120,000 at the Golden Manor and would allow $27,000 for hiring four extra students to cut grass.
Gvozdanovic told council his vote against the rate was not because of the revenue loss at Golden Manor.
“I am more than happy with the way that facility is run. I am just disturbed with some of the other things going on,” he said.
Gvozdanovic mentioned that he was upset at the fact that two janitorial jobs had been cut at the McIntyre Community Building, that one thousand man-hours had been dedicated to the renovation of city hall council chambers and that an additional $27,000 would be spent to hire four summer students to cut grass.
Councillor Denis Saudino said he too was prepared to vote against the budget because council has not yet seen the 2007 actual spending figures.
Saudino said he could not, in good conscience, vote on a 2008 tax rate without knowing if there was going to be a deficit or surplus for the city, for 2007.
“Normally I would support this budget hands down, but at this time I find it very difficult to do so without year-end results,” Saudino said.
At that point, Mayor Tom Laughren advised council there would not be a deficit on the city’s 2007 spending.
“I can honestly tell you that in my discussions with the treasurer and CAO that we will not be a deficit position for 2007,” said the Mayor, who added there would be a “slight surplus” for 2007.
City treasurer Bernie Christian confirmed the mayor’s statement.
At that point, Saudino changed his stand and said he would be prepared to vote for Option Two.
Other city councillors spoke in support of the tax hike, emphasizing that the city’s job is to provide service to the taxpayers.
The new residential tax rate will mean an increase of roughly $95 per year for an average residential property which now pays roughly $3000 per year in property taxes.

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