Madawaska Valley Treasurer Amanda Hudder formally presented the 2021 municipal budget at the Council meeting of May 18. She began with the high level impact of the budget, covering tax billing, capital projects and the budget process. The bottom line for taxpayers? The overall tax rate for 2021 will increase 1.9 percent from the 2020 level. That means for every $100,000 assessment of your property, you will pay $1,635.22 in tax — an additional $31.16.
She explained that although the municipal tax rate is up by 2.1 percent and the county tax rate has also increased — by 2.4 percent — because this year’s education tax rate is 0 percent, the overall tax rate for the 2021 fiscal year increases by just 1.9 percent compared to 2020.
The Treasurer explained that the revenue required from taxation during 2021 is $4,140,369 based on revenues of $4,895,994 and expenditures of $9,036,364 (see below for each department)
As always in MV, the lion’s share of the expenditures is in Transportation Services (i.e. Roads) with $3,778,305. The list of capital projects includes completion of Paugh Lake Road (click HERE for separate report), Wilowski Drive (using Gas Tax funds), Jackpine Street, Chapeski Mill Road and Arbor Vitae Road as well as gravel resurfacing various roads.The application for funding to work on the Connecting Link (Opeongo Line) was unsuccessful.
Another major capital project this year will be the Fire Pumper replacement at $400,000.
Self-assessment in lieu of report card
During her budget overview, Hudder pointed to the Township’s strategic planning process which began in 2019 with public consultations and resulted in strategic priorities. While no “report card” has been shared publicly, she referred to the updated strategic priorities when discussing the budget process. She said that COVID-19 had forced MV into a new, digital way of operating — as she put it referring to online meetings, “Zoom-zoom” — and she said they had done an excellent job. She listed the following achievements implemented during 2020 by the municipality, grouped under the four main Strategic Priorities:
- Open communications and governance: Hudder said MV has adapted online processes for Building and Planning Departments; implemented new financial software to allow future online billing information; updated the township website madawaskavalley.ca as per residents’ requests; started a monthly newsletter ‘Township Tidbits.’
- Progressive & growing economy: Here she pointed to staff participation in monthly economic development meetings held by County of Renfrew; monthly emails to the Barry’s Bay BIA; the 2021 budget includes an Energy Conservation & Demand Management Plan, as well as RFPs for a consultant review of Development Charges.
- Healthy and sustainable commmunity: She said MV provided different programs during 2020 as allowed by COVID-19; continued its annual $10,000 support to the Valley Manor Redevelopment project; and provided support for St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation as well as the Joint Municipal Physician Recruitment & Retention program; township building condition assessments are under way.
- Efficient and effective services: Hudder said the municipality is considering a Service Delivery Review; has cooperated with neighbouring municipalities on recreation programs; and implemented a Volunteer Appreciation program.
As the Treasurer concluded, Councillor Mark Willmer said it was a “very good budget moving forward” and CAO Suzanne Klatt thanked Hudder for her work on the 2021 municipal budget.
In the absence of Mayor Kim Love, Klatt thanked “Council, each municipal staff member and volunteer, local businesses and residents of the Township of Madawaska Valley for their continued patience as we continue to adapt to change.” She said that during these COVID-19 times, “We should all be MV-proud of the role everyone has played keeping our community safe.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated on May 26 to include a link to a separate report of MV Council meetings held during May.