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RM of Dauphin ups spending, holds mill rate stable

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The Rural Municipality (RM) of Dauphin will hold its mill rate to 22.165 this year, despite a 2.1 per cent increase in expenditures.
At the presentation of its financial plan estimates on May 9, Reeve Dennis Forbes explained, council was able to do so by withdrawing from its reserves or accumulated surplus.
“We would like to be able to lower the size of the cheque our residents have to pay,” he said, pointing out there are some debentures which will be paid off in the future, which may make that possible. But Forbes added, without a new source of revenue in the RM, that may be difficult.
In the mean time, he noted, council is comfortable with the financial plan estimate it has put forward, as it demonstrates the RM is moving forward, trying to give good value for the dollars collected.
The Rural Water Pipeline project is one of those improvements Forbes said, which offers good value.
“We really feel that it will increase either industry or residential development. That’s what we’ve seen in other municipalities,” he said, noting most of the residents in phase one have been connected and the RM has received approval for phase two funding, which will be going to tender soon and construction is anticipated to begin this summer.
“Council plans to apply for phase three funding, so as many residents as possible can have access to rural water.”
The RM reported revenues and expenses of $4,632,284.59 with no operating surplus this year.
A withdrawal of $1,924,698 from various reserve funds in 2017 will be used for equipment replacement, Parker Bridge repair, drainage engineering at the Joint Industrial Park and the Rural Water Pipeline project, hydro pedestals at Stoney Point Beach, office equipment replacement, an addition to the RM shop, a share of the replacement for the Dauphin Fire Department truck, the Rural Water Pipeline project and six road construction projects.
Council has purchased a second excavator, Forbes noted, and with extra staffing, the RM will be doing more work on its own, rather than relying on contractors.
“We will continue to hire contractors for road construction projects that are funded by the Municipal Road Improvement Program and in utilizing the Federal Gas Tax allocation,” he said.
The Public Works department listed several projects for the upcoming construction season for 18 approach installations, 17 drainage maintenance projects, nine major drain projects, one major bridge repair and five other bridge and crossing repairs.
CAO Laura Murray explained ratepayers would not see an increase in the municipal portion of their taxes, unless they have made improvements to their property.
The Mountain View School Division levy has increased by 6.58 per cent, Forbes said, so property owners will see an increase in the school tax portion of their bills.
At the presentation, Don Dewar asked council if it would consider a rebate on farmland taxes to property owners, as assessments have gone up, while buildings have not.
A rebate would bring equity to the system, he said, conceding there is not a simple solution to the issue.
Dewar also commended council for the work it has done, adding the provincial government needs to take a closer look at the issue.
At the meeting, an email from Jeff Michasiw was read aloud. The RM resident spoke against the suggestion of a rebate, adding council should continue to fund its current services.
Referring to it as fuel for discussion, Forbes thanked everyone for their input, adding the issue will be discussed at a later date.

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M. A. Nyquist
REPORTER
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