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Operating budget finalized with 5.99% increase

By Randy Thoms Mar 19, 2024 | 4:47 PM

Taxes in Fort Frances are going up almost 6 per cent.

Town council approved the operating budget Monday at a special meeting

A majority of homeowners will pay an extra $144 or less if their property assessment stays the same.

Mayor Andrew Hallikas called the budget discussions difficult but were able to reduce the shortfall by half a million dollars.

“I do want to point out that when administration took this on some time ago, that the increased amount of spending they predicted was $1.2 million,” says Hallikas.

“I think that to have gotten it down to just over 700,000 was some really good work by both council and administration. It’s still a significant increase, but if you look across the province, you are seeing increases in a similar vein everywhere.”

Hallikas notes the town was forced to deal with a large amount of uncontrollable costs.

Policing costs are going up by over $80 thousand. The town’s share to the District of Rainy River Services Board increased by more than $229 thousand, while salaries and benefits are higher by over $400 thousand.

The town also saw its share of provincial transfer payments decrease by $9,600.

The final numbers were also influenced by council’s decision to reject a lower library budget than recommended by administration and revenue loss from the pool being closed an extra two months because of repair work.

This led to the shortfall increasing by $27,000 since council’s last budget meeting earlier this month.

Councillor John McTaggart was one of two to reject the budget.

“I’m disappointed that we’ve gone backwards on this, and I’m really having trouble supporting an increase of 5.99%. I really think that we need to go back and take another look and try to find some more savings,” says McTaggart.

Councillor Wendy Brunetta also voted against the budget.