By Vanessa Broadbent
Residents of Harrison Hot Springs can expect to pay less taxes for 2016.
The 2016-2020 financial plan, which was approved unanimously at Monday’s council meeting, outlined that tax rates for residential properties decreased from 3.55 in 2015 to 3.45.
The financial plan also outlines council’s objectives which include “to continue to seek grants for major infrastructure repair and replacement.”
“We will always continue to apply for grants if something comes up,” Jones said.
Council is still awaiting approval on a $3.6 million grant to improve the village’s water infrastructures, but the budget accounts for $1,929,700 in grants and donations — 25.2 percent of the total revenue.
The financial plan also includes funds for various projects including an organic waste program and a trail connecting the village with the District of Kent. Larger capitol projects are also included, such as the Miami River flood pump, improvements on Esplanade Avenue, upgrades and renovations to the beach washrooms, an outdoor recreation platform, as well as improved lighting at Rendall park.
Funding will also be provided for a new position with the village.
“We will be funding an additional position, a utilities technician, as a permanent position to add to the water and sewer department,” Jones said. “That new position will be shared between those two areas to help up with a preventative maintenance program for our new assets.”
The financial plan also sees an increase of $63,000 in funds for the fire department, but Jones explained that this is only for 2016.
“One of the areas we are spending more money on this year is the fire department and operations to put in some additional training resources,” she said. “They now have new requirements for training so that’s what we’ve had to address this year for them. It’s a one time increase so they can deal with these new requirements that they have to handle.”
While council still followed the standard procedure in approving the financial plan, they also hosted an open house when members of the public could ask questions and discuss the budget with council and staff.
“We had a good opportunity to talk,” deputy financial officer Tracey Jones said. “Having the budget open house for four hours allowed people to stay as long as they wanted and ask specifics about areas of their interests. We did get some very positive feedback about the change in format.”