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Boyle cuts capital projects to avoid tax hikes

Village saw quarter million tax revenue reduction in several categories
Boyle Mayor Colin Derko praised admin staff for finding the right capital projects to hold for a later date after property reassessments left the village more than $250,000 shorter in tax revenue than expected.

BOYLE — Village of Boyle residents won’t have to fork out for increased tax rates this year to make up more than $250,000 in reduced property tax revenue thanks to last minute monetary maneuvering by village administrative staff and councillors. 

During their May 15 meeting, Boyle councillors voted to unanimously pass all three readings of the 2024 tax rate bylaw with no hikes in residential and commercial property taxes. Councillors also voted 5-0 to approve amendments to the 2024 operating budget necessary to balance the loss of $255,174 in tax revenue. 

“We originally started budgeting based on last year’s assessments,” said Warren Griffin, chief executive officer for the village. New assessments showing an increase were completed in February, and fiscal plans for 2024 were then based on the projected tax revenues. 

But those increases weren’t reflected in a recent reassessment, meaning tax revenue received from residents this year would not match revenue projected in the March 6 version of the budget. 

“We needed to come up with that money, so we sacrificed some of the (capital projects),” said Mayor Colin Derko. “Administration did a hell of job on finding the right things that actually made sense.” 

Projects put off for future years include a digital sign to replace the aging Christmas Tree on 3 Street, the chipseal road repair program, lift station pumps, and an investment into the lagoon spillway. Capital savings from the changes total $214,000. 

Councillors gathered in their chambers one day prior for a budget meeting to review and forward the proposed changes to the regular meeting for approval. Assistant CAO Tina George presented councillors with a number of options for tax rates, including increases at 0.5 mills and 1.5 mills. 

Councillors asked George how much of an increase would be required to make up the total tax shortfall, and her estimation indicated tax rates would need to jump by three mills across the board. 

“We weren’t even entertaining it, not a little bit,” said Derko in a May 17 follow-up. He said even with a 0.5 mill or 1.5 mill increase, the savings weren’t significant enough to prompt a fee increase. 

“It would have meant an increase of a few hundred dollars in some cases, and it wouldn’t have made enough of a difference to do the projects anyways,” he added. 

The residential mill rate will hold at 10.10 mills, and non-residential and machinery and equipment remain at 17.81 mills. Farmland sits slightly higher but will stay at 17.89 mills for 2024. 

Capital cuts and operational savings

“It actually worked out in our favour,” said Derko. 

Councillors discovered during their budget meeting the $100,000 slated for the chipseal program was not sufficient funding for the work required and made deferring the project until next year an easy decision. A vote to cancel the ongoing RFP process for the program was also passed 5-0. 

The remainder of the tax revenue lost will be made up in salary savings, Warren informed councillors. With an empty parks position and a newly vacated public works post, over $113,000 in pay and benefits will be saved over the coming months. 

“By the time we find a candidate for that one open (parks) position, we’ll save almost six month’s worth of salary by the time they start,” said Griffin. With the salary savings and capital cash recouped, the village was able to make up more than $327,500 to cover the assessment losses. 

However, not all the funds will go towards tax revenue; Griffin noted a portion of the parks and public works savings are being put towards the hiring of three summer students to ensure levels of service are maintained throughout the green season. 

Coun. Mike Antal, who was absent for the May 14 budget meeting, did question if putting the purchase of lift station pumps off was feasible. The project is dependent on grant approval, and Griffin noted if their application is successful, a dip into reserves may prove necessary. 

“That would make sense,” said Derko. “Our biggest concern with this was keeping taxes level and getting the projects done that need to get done.” 

“The real work will be later this summer as we start doing ’25,” said Griffin. “We’ll have to take into account the deduction in tax revenue, so there will be some work with that.”                                              

Lexi Freehill,                                                                                    

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