Friday, April 27, 2018
CLEARWATER COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
By Marianne Cole
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Highlights of County Council meeting are as follows:
1. Leslieville/Condor Fire Hall
This matter was tabled until May 8th in order to allow administration more time to collect comparative figures on the different possibilities.
2. Phase 2 Broadband Public Engagement Plan
This refers to the county’s plans for working to improve internet/broadband service in the county. As mentioned in previous highlights, County Council plans to meet with three stakeholder groups: the general public, the Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), and the local business people. Plans are proceeding to host meetings in the southern and central areas of the county with meetings to be scheduled towards the end of May. Suggested dates are May 23, 24, 27, and 28 with possible locations being James River, Caroline, and Leslieville. All meeting dates, times, and locations will be verified after checking on hall availabilities. We definitely encourage everyone to watch the local newspapers and check on the county’s website for more info. This is an issue that will affect everyone looking forward to the future.
3. Tax Rate Bylaw
Significant discussion took place on establishing property tax rates for the coming year. It was noted that assessments are down significantly so to maintain tax rates at the existing level would have resulted in a large drop in tax revenue. Discussion took place on efforts to keep the dollar amount that residences and small businesses pay similar to last year. With the reduction in assessment this could happen with a 3% increase in the mill rate. Discussion also took place on the non-residential (larger business) tax rate. Comments varied here as there was a concern about making these taxes too high and perhaps discouraging businesses from coming to Clearwater County. As the same time it was noted that our business tax levels are lower than surrounding jurisdictions and the suggested raise would still keep our rates equal to the average. In the end a motion was made to instruct administration to re-draft the tax rate bylaw with a 3% increase for residential properties and 6% for non-residential. This passed with a 5-2 split in votes with Councillors Hoven and Swanson opposing. A subsequent motion was passed to table the passing of the re-drafted bylaw to May 8th.
4. Audited Financial Statement/Auditor’s Report
Highlights here noted that the financial assets of the county increased by $7.7 million in the last year. This includes actual monetary assets as well as capital assets. The annual surplus for the year was just under $1.5 million making the total accumulated surplus now just under $80million. According to the auditor this is “moderate” compared to the county’s overall spending. Other notes of interest was the higher than budgeted administration costs but that was due to “administrative re-organization” and severance payouts. On a positive note there will now be more accountability/better recording of the Regional Waste Authority finances with the county supervising that operation. A complete report can be found on the County’s website under “Administration/Finances”.