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Bridgewater councillors want rate as is

by Keith Corcoran

 BRIDGEWATER - A majority of town councillors are expected to go against a staff recommendation and not back a residential tax rate increase.

 Unless some civic politicians have a change of heart during this week's vote, residential property owners won't see the one per cent hike as thought, leaving the current rate of $1.628 per $100 of assessment unchanged.

 Town council is expected to crunch the last of the numbers this week and vote on the $16 million budget and set the tax rates.

 Three councillors, Jim Bell, Bill McInnis and Deputy Mayor David Walker, like the idea of leaving the residential rate as is and transferring $18,000 from reserves to cover the cost of necessary arena repairs.

 But that manoeuvre will mean the projected deficit will rise to $198,749. Councillor McInnis would like to see the cash from the nearly $1 million tucked away in capital and operational reserves used to eliminate the debt.

 Meanwhile, Councillor Kevin Marlin and Mayor Carroll Publicover feel it makes more economic sense to raise the residential rate to $1.644 per $100 of assessment with no transfers coming from reserve. This would leave a deficit of $166,749 for the town to get rid of.

 Councillor Bev Brown supports no increase in residential rate but thinks extra savings could be found if individual departments pared back their budgets by one per cent.

 Councillor David Mitchell wasn't in attendance.

 Councillors met during a specially scheduled meeting last week to make final decisions on some line items so much of the work will be finished in time for the final vote.

 Commercial tax rates are still proposed to rise 5.3 per cent to $3.548 per $100 of assessment from $3.368 per $100 of assessment, as is the sewer rate to $152 from $129 a year.

 The town informally decided to keep the $15,000 for the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation water rescue project in the budget, along with the $2,000 earmarked for the volunteer navigator position, and an added $2,351 to help cost share a tourism marketing plan.

 A late request received by the Kippers School of Gymnastics asking for $15,000 toward a gym renovation project is expected to be dealt with by council this week. Bridgewater will also deal with a tender to upgrade the sewage treatment plant that is more than $200,000 over budget.

 The plant needs an ultraviolet light disinfection system and the installation of diesel generator standby power so it can convert from the use of chlorine chemical disinfection, changes required by Ottawa. Chlorination can't be used come 2010 because the federal government declared it toxic to the fishery. The province has already promised to cost share up to $280,000 of the amount.



posted on 06/24/08
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