A record number of new developments and new builds in the township of McNab/Braeside has resulted in zero tax increase for its residents, as council members approved and passed the $6-million 2021 budget on Dec. 15.
Mayor Tom Peckett was both surprised and happy about the budget in an interview Dec. 17.
“All the staff and leadership team, together with council, worked together to come up with a budget that was needed from the township. Lo and behold — it worked out to zero. We’re exceedingly happy that we could work this out for our residents during this difficult year,” Peckett said.
Earlier draft budget deliberations started out with a nine per cent levy increase, which decreased to five, and eventually zero per cent, after council and staff made changes, and factored in growth from the township.
“The township has turned a corner, showed real growth. It helps with revenue for next year,” the mayor added.
Treasurer Kelly Coughlin is confident the township’s growth is going to continue “because of our close proximity to the city. It’s an easy commute for people, they benefit from living in a rural setting and not having to pay such high property taxes.”
Assuming county and education rates remain the same, the tax rate on an average $254,000 single-family, detached home in the township will go down very slightly, an approximate decrease of 37 cents per year over 2020 rates.
The 2021 capital budget includes $1,604,594 to be spent on reconstruction and rehabilitation of the following roads: William Meek Drive, Proper Street, Findlay Street, Gillies Street, Sarah Street and Toner Road.
A security system will be installed at the John A. Gillies Recreation Centre due to a number of break-ins this year, according to the budget report.
Other infrastructure projects involve fencing around the sports court near Murray Yantha Community Centre and the rehabilitation of the outdoor rink adjacent to the John A. Gillies Recreation Centre.
Operating expenses that have increased for next year consist of general insurance (up 20 per cent), firefighter insurance (up 10 per cent) and staff and council wages (up 1.5 per cent). Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) policing costs will also increase by $26,127 in 2021.
New hires for the township will include a new public works employee, a recreation department full time employee, and a new summer student position.
A five-year highway project is also being planned, with a 2021 start and December 2023 completion date.
“Currently the highway is twinned between McNab, Braeside and Arnprior. The province announced that it will be expanding the highway through past Renfrew,” Coughlin said.
“This is a significant milestone for the ministry as it signifies the beginning of the larger 22.5-kilometre expansion of Highway 17 from Scheel Drive to 3 kilometres west of Bruce Street,” read a letter from Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation, to Mayor Peckett.
“This will encourage more developments. It’s great news for our township,” Coughlin added.
Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News