Muskoka To-DAILY

Bracebridge tax hike 2.5% — or $19 on home assessed at $200,000

BRACEBRIDGE — What do you get for $19 more this year?

Well, if you’re in Bracebridge, it’s better roads, improved recreation facilities, a new roof for the library and Oakley Square village building, a new fire rescue vehicle — and $40,000 donation toward a $580,000 pledge to the local hospital.

Those are just a few of the highlights of the town’s 2014 budget that town council passed Wednesday as part of their municipal budget and business plan.

It represents a general property tax increase of approximately 2.5 percent for the average residential property with taxable assessment of $200,000 — or $19 in lower-tier general municipal taxes for the year.

That is without your additional school board and District of Muskoka tax increases.

The town says in a news release Thursday that the “approved 2014 Municipal Budget and Business Plan is the second year for the combined Budget and business plan format for the Town.

“The combined document was developed to better meet the needs of council and the public, and regular reporting against this document will continue to support the Town’s collective public accountability.”

They say that this year staff will be reporting back to council on a quarterly basis,

not only on financial matters and variances, but also on business plan projects and initiatives.

The approved 2014 Municipal Budget and Business Plan affirms Council’s priorities of maintaining core municipal services and promoting long-term sustainability of municipal infrastructure. The town says the document reflects council’s commitment to building on the significant number of corporate and departmental projects that were undertaken in 2013.

 “Council is satisfied that this budget continues a tradition of fiscal prudence while still planning for future needs,” said Smith.

Highlights from the approved 2014 Municipal Budget and Business Plan include the following projects:

Capital Budget – New Initiatives

 Implementation of a road maintenance pilot project based on the conversion of the road surface from hi-float to gravel (Waters Road, Purbrook Road, Lorne Road);

 Undertaking pulverization, base stabilization and asphalt repairs (Denniss Drive);

 Undertaking pulverization, base stabilization and hi-float repairs (Stephens Bay Road, Conway Crescent, Bonnell Road, Germania Road, Taylor Road);

 Installation of the Douglas Drive pedestrian pathway;

 Replacement a sidewalk plow;

 UndertakingBracebridgeBay area improvements (Downtown Historic Walkway, KelvinGroveWharf);

 Initiating the Annie Williams Memorial Park MicroFit electrical power generation project;

 Replacement of fire rescue truck;

 Undertaking Kelvin Grove tennis court improvements;

 UndertakingGostickSoccerPark improvements;

 Replacement of library roof; and

 Replacement of Oakley Village Square roof.

 Increased transfer to transit reserve, from $10,000 in 2013 to $70,000 in 2014 to support the planned implementation of a transit service for the Town in 2016;

 Transfer to reserves for the town’s recreation master plan. The total estimated cost of the plan is $100,000, to be undertaken in 2015; and

 $40,000 for Year 1 of a 7-year pledge to the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation totaling $580,000, to support the Foundation’s $6.5M Capital Campaign for implementation of an Electronic Patient Records system; acquisition of Digital Radiography equipment for Diagnostic Imaging; development of an electronic Medication Management system; and implementing systems for Virtual Consulting and Remote Reporting to improve patient outcomes.

Council also approved an allocation of $100,000 to be used to fund the repair and maintenance of several low traffic volume roads in the Town. Specific projects will be determined by Council at a later date.

Similar to municipalities across the country, Bracebridge continues to face significant infrastructure challenges. Although the 2014 Municipal Budget and Business Plan addresses a number of these challenges, the town will continue to seek out grant funding from upper levels of government and will continue to build the town’s major infrastructure reserve.

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