| May 08, 2014

AH brings in budget with 2.69% increase in local taxation

Addington Highlands Council approved their 2014 spending estimates and tax levy this week with little fanfare. Members of council had several sessions on the budget over the past six weeks and since there were no members of the public in attendance, Treasurer Jack Pauhl did not go into any of the details of the budget before the vote.

In dollar figures the public will pay a total of $60,000 to the township, up to $2.287 million. Taxpayers pay Addington Highlands taxes in addition to L&A County taxes (which were up by about the same amount), as well as education taxes as part of their municipal tax bill.

Because Addington Highlands saw an increase in direct provincial funding of $187,000, spending is up by about $250,000 this year.

The budget includes $50,000 to go towards the new fire hall in Northbrook. The estimated cost of the project is $1.67 million but the township does have money in reserve to put towards it. At this point, the budget estimates that the township will be taking out a loan of over $1 million once the project is completed, which will be paid back over a number of years.

The township will also be rebuilding Ruttan's Bridge this year, at a cost of $532,000 but most of the cost is covered by an infrastructure grant of $480,000. The $15,000 cost of this year's municipal election is also in the budget, whereas only $1,000 was set aside last year. In terms of equipment purchases, a grader ($325,000) for public works and a tanker ($262,000) for the fire department are the largest items.

The policing cost of $523,000 is up by $23,000 from last year, but that increase could be much greater yet next year depending on how a new OPP costing formula shakes out.

“I expect we will see a large increase next year,” said Jack Pauhl.

The preliminary proposed OPP funding formula of $369 per household would put the costs at just under $1 million for the 2,700 households in Addington Highlands, and although amendments are being proposed for that formula AH costs are still likely to go up. The permanent resident population of Addington Highlands is 2,532 so policing costs could be as high as $400 per resident if the formula remains in place.

Reeve Hogg wary of proposed hiring bylaw

Councilor Snider has proposed an amendment to the township's hiring bylaw. Currently, the bylaw says that hiring is “subject to the following restrictions: a) the individual must not supervise a relative, and b) the individual must not be supervised by a relative.”

Snider's amendment included more restrictive language. It says “The Municipality shall not hire anyone who is a relative of a full-time municipal employee ... “ Relatives are defined in the existing bylaw as immediate family (including common-law spouses) as well as in-laws, grandparents or grandchildren, nieces and nephews employees, council or township committee members.

“I think we would be open to human rights complaints if we passed this,” said Reeve Henry Hogg.

“Is this something we should have a legal opinion on?” asked Councilor Helen Yanch

“At the very least,” said Hogg. “I think we are likely open to charges if it's not worded properly.”

“Can you also ask that the legal opinion is here in time to put this back before council at the next meeting?” said Snider.

“The lawyer tends to follow his own schedule, not ours,” said Hogg.

“You keep throwing up roadblocks,” said Deputy Reeve Bill Cox.

“It's not a roadblock, it's just being careful,” said Hogg.

Council approved a motion to defer the proposed change pending a legal opinion.

Health Unit wine prohibition request fails to get backing.

Dr. Ian Gemmill from Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington Public Health has written to local municipalities asking them to put a stop to sales of VQA (Vinners Quality Alliance) wines at local farmers' markets.

In December of last year, the province initiated a pilot project permitting the sales of the Ontario wines, which is set to take effect this month.

“Municipalities can prohibit the sale of VQA at any or all farmers' markets within their jurisdiction” wrote Gemmill. Saying that the checks and balances in place to ensure the safe consumption of alcohol are best accomplished by the LCBO, Gemill urges KFL&A municipalities to exercise that authority.

“I think we should do this,” said Deputy Reeve Bill Cox.

“Why?” asked Councilor Yanch, “we don't even have any farmers' markets in our township.”

Cox's proposal to prohibit the sales did not receive a seconder.

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