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The City of Dauphin has lowered its mill rate for 2020 with the goal of collecting the same amount of working capital as it did last year.
Set at 18.908, the mill rate will raise a total of $6,449,919 compared to $6,423,481 last year.
“We adjust the mill rate to make sure that we don’t take any more taxes from the base assessment. But we do also tax any new construction at that same rate, so the city does take a little bit more, but it is not from the ratepayers that would have paid last year,” said city manager Sharla Griffiths.
With 2020 being a reassessment year, the effect of the mill rate reduction on individual properties depends on its new assessment, Griffiths said.
“If your assessment went up the average amount of the community or more, you will pay more taxes,” she said adding if the assessment on a $100,000 property did not change, the homeowner would pay $64.17 less in municipal taxes.
The money raised will fund a plan that focuses on fundamentals, said mayor Allen Dowhan.
“We’re not increasing any taxes and there’s no layoffs because we have to somehow keep stimulus in this economy. And we have a lot of work to do, roads and there’s a lot of water and sewer stuff,” Dowhan said.
“It’ll keep people employed and give them a paycheque and also improve our infrastructure.”
Dowhan added there will be no programming cuts as the only place council looked for savings was with “fancy things.”
“We wanted to upgrade the landscaping around city hall, so we cut out that and a few other things,” he said.
“We wanted to make sure that the money that we are collecting, we’re focusing on infrastructure,” Griffiths added
In order to help those who might be struggling with income during the COVID-19 pandemic, the city has also expanded the deadline for paying property taxes from July 31 to Sept. 30. The new deadline coincides with the extension on school taxes announced earlier by Premier Brian Pallister.
“So it’s very difficult for us to start collecting our half, but then two months later collect school taxes,” Griffiths said.
“And if they don’t pay, it’s very difficult accounting-wise to charge late fees on some, but not others. So we decided to push it all back.”
The move has the potential to affect the city’s cash flow and, while they have the capacity to go into an overdraft situation at the bank, Griffiths hopes anybody who can pay their taxes prior to the end of September will do just that.
“We also have reached out to the province to see if we can get our general operating grant earlier, or a larger portion of it earlier in the year,” she said.
Other revenue included the budget totals $4,567,974 and is made up primarly of taxes added estimated at $125,000, businesses licenses budgetted at $96,000, a provincial municipal operating grant of $645,145, a provincial public safety grant of $939,791, federal grants totalling $505,291 and provincial grants of $246,451.
The budget also includes a $60,000 transfer from reserves.
On the expenditure side of the balance sheet General Government Services spending is set at $1,309,798, an increases of 1.36 per cent over last year resulting from increases in wage requirements, community grants and appropriations and the Dauphin Regional Airport Authority subsidy.
Protective Services has been budgetted at $3,028,430, up 5.29 per cent over last year as a result of RCMP wage increases and the purchase of specialized equipment for Dauphin Fire Department.
Transportation Services spending has been set at $1,812,907, an increase of 1.41 per cent over 2019. Highlights include $1,039 on capital and maintenance program for roads and sidewalks, full staffing for the entire year, 75 per cent more sidewalk repairs than last year, a drainage study and design for Main Street South and bridge repairs on Fourth Avenue Southwest.
Environmental Health expenditures are up .81 per cent over last year at $943,106 while Public Health and Welfare Services remains unchanged at $33,749 and Environmental Development Services spending decreased by 7.06 per cent to $150,455.
Economic Development Services spending, which fluctuates depending on development, has also decreased to $411,755, down 37.13 per cent from last year.
Spending on Recreation and Cultural Services is set at $1,942,956, an increase of 8.81 per cent due to increased grants to the Dauphin Public Library and Parkland Regional Library, and an increase to Dauphin Recreation Services operating funds and a new grant to the Crisis Prevention Task Force.
The Fiscal Services budget of $3,097,166 is highlighted by decreased reserve appropriations.
Utility Fund
In the Utility Fund, revenue has been budgetted at $2,706,500, down due to a lower projection of water sales and no increase in rates. The plan is to run a small deficit in the fund as 2018 rates are still in use, a result of the city waiting for lagoon upgrade funding prior to doing a Public Utilities Board rate study.
Capital expenditures
Capital work laid out in the General Fund budget includes road reconstruction projects on Sixth Avenue Northeast from Main Street to Second Avenue Northeast and on MacNeill Place, as well as mill and overlay work on Third Avenue Northeast from Second Street Northeast to Mountain Road and on Fourth Street Northeast from First Avenue Northeast to Third Avenue Northeast, totalling $512,625.
Sidewalk construction projects are planned for First Street Northeast and Whitmore Avenue at a cost of $69,300.
Environmental capital projects including finishing the solar project at the city shops, instalation of an electric vehicle charger upgrades to the residential recycling depot and waste disposal site upgrades total $331,050.
Equipment purchases including a new excavator, a tire changer and a utility cuber van total $323,596, while equipment purchases for Dauphin Fire Department are set $85,930.
Other capital expenditures including solar lights, a sprinkler system and HVAC upgrades at CN Station, an indigenous statue, a land purchase from CN, city park signage, active transportation work, several recreations services projects, an IT server work at Watson Art Centre, and work at city hall and the city shops total $605,107.
In all, $1,997608 in capital projects are planned for the General Fund.
In the Utility Fund water main and wastewater main projects totalling $591,996 are planned.
As well, the capital plan includes the purchase of orthophosphate equipment, security fencing at the Brown Avenue Reservoir, leak detection equipment, water meter reading equipment, a freezing machine, upgrades at lift stations 1 and 2 and water Treatment Plants UV disinfection equipment totalling $2,300,520.