Continue to put money aside for capital plans, or lower the tax increase? That’s the question left in the air after today’s budget talks in Huntsville. General committee went through the report prepared by Finance Manager Julia McKenzie for the 2018 budget, looking at where the town is going to spend money over the next year. Today’s draft report outlined a 3.29 per cent tax increase next year, which equals out to be a $12 increase for every $100,000 in home assessments.

However, Mayor Scott Aitchison proposed that a different report be drafted. The town puts money aside every year into different reserve accounts, putting a little more into each account every year so those plans can be funded. That includes the Muskoka Heritage Place, parks and transportation. The increase in 2018 is currently sitting at $330,000 but Aitchison suggested the town do away with that increase and instead put the same amount of money into those capital plans as 2017, which means the budget will be $330,000 less. Aitchison explained to council it’s an opportunity to see what that would look like for the overall budget. He says it might be too drastic or not enough, but it will give the town an idea of how it will impact the budget and the overall cost increase.

McKenzie says that will lower the overall tax increase for 2018, but will also bring the town into a further deficit for those capital plans. She also notes some of the more significant capital projects, like updating the McCulley Robertson Park, the Brunel Locks retaining wall and reconstructing Centre Street are being pushed back to 2019 or later.

Huntsville’s committee is going to look at the new draft report of the 2018 budget at its December 19th meeting, and then will either ask for more changes or will approve the report. If that happens, council will vote to officially approve the budget in January.

Photo: Supplied by Julia McKenzie.