Year in ReviewFinance
Again this year the Town of Winterton is in very good financial shape.
As you are all aware there has been a reassessment of property values by the Municipal Assessment Agency. Our town, and all towns, pay a mandatory annual fee to this organization to conduct its work; Winterton annually pays roughly $13000. The job of the agency is to "distribute" the tax burden amoug the tax base (property owners). We are subject to a system whereby each property owner's share of the town's overall operating cost is allocated by the value of his or her property. The town raises it operating revenue by levying tax on property so we raise or lower the mil rate to generate the revenue needed to run the town. The process starts by calculating expenses then assessing the revenue needed to match the expenses. The formula is fairly straightforward, an overall value of all residencial and commercial properties is totaled and a percentage is applied to this figure to equal the revenue needed to funded operating expenses, that percentage is the mil rate. This year the property value overall (as assessed by the Municipal Assessment Agency) went up in Winterton by approximately 35%. Our target was to remain revenue neutral (meaning bringing in the same revenue as 2014) but we needed some extra based on budgeting for basic inflationary cost increases, capital planning for buildings and fire equipment. Overall the budgeted increase in tax revenue to be collected has risen by 2% over 2015. Back to the key word "distribute". The roles in how your tax bill is decided are: The town decides the overall tax bill, as I said we raised the revenue needed by 2%. The Municipal Assessment Agency decides who pays, they assess ability to pay by the value of your property, if your property goes up in value due to reassessment you are burdened with a larger percentage of the tax bill. This means that although overall taxes did not go up your tax bill could be higher or lower. Given that the increase in overall levied property tax is 2% and the average increase in property value is approximately 35% if your property value has risen by 35% you will see a 2% rise in your tax bill. Hopefully that is as clear as mud.
The town keeps its financial house in good order a number of ways:
1) By keeping long term debt to a minimum. This is something that your provincial and federal governments do not understand; every dollar paid out in debt service (interest) is a dollar which is not available to pay for services. We keep the debt low so that your tax dollars pay for services, not interest. If we can continue to spend within our means we will continue to enjoy low taxes.
2) By keeping costs down; our services are minimum but they meet requirements, are safely and effectively delivered and cost efficient.
3) Revenue generation; the Outside Pond Park generates revenue for the town every year. Aside from being an excellent recreation asset and a local provider of jobs for the community the park plays an important role in the towns finances.
4) Support where possible of local business. The town has an excellent business tax base. Respect and support for local local business hopefully helps them thrive and continue to be significant tax payers. Each dollar they pay above the cost to service their properties is a dollar residents do not have to pay.
1) Our mil rates for residential and commercial are some of the lowest in the region. We have a very low mil rate, no additional residential garbage collection fee and we also have low water/sewer rates.
2) Did I mention no long term debt!
Any questions please feel free to call the town office, one of your councilors or email me directly at email@example.comOutside Pond Park
The park had a good year, lots of visitors and lots of fun had by all.
Some improvements are ongoing. the trail is being converted from boardwalk to stone. The first section is now complete from the parking lot to the bridge and another section is mostly complete from the bridge to the offshoot to the gazebo, the second section can be used but still requires the fine stone topcoat. We are hoping to have another project for the spring to complete the walkway between the bridge and the new section of boardwalk, fingers crossed. Thank you to all our patrons for bearing with us through the redevelopment.
We ae also currently exploring a major upgrade of the electrical system, no decisions made at this stage but work is progressing on analyzing what is required to upgrade the system to better suit the newer, larger RVs for now and into the long term.Service Groups
Winterton is blessed with excellent groups of voluteers.
The Fire Department
is well manned but is always welcoming of anyone who wishes to help serve their community. Darrel Reid is the chief and can be contacted about membership.
The Recreation Commission
has a great group of voluteers but is also always looking for more people to help carry out events. They put off a very impressive series of events this year including various events for all ages. The building is a work in progress, slow and steady improvements are being made, but the commission is the people and as such it is very strong. They would love to see new full members but also need casual volunteers who may only be available on occasion to help at a function or prepare food, every bit counts, the more the merrier and many hands make light work! Contact president Jean Green for details.
The Wooden Boat Museum
is as always an ambassador for Winterton throughout the province and a major local asset for touism and local history. Their new Stages display is certainly well worth a browse. I am always amazed that such a fine quality of presentation is available in our small town. This group has brought a class of preservation not often seen outside major cities to our town as well as bringing jobs and investment.
The Softball Committee
has revived the sport in Winterton over the last couple years and brought life back to the ballfield. They can always use an extra pair of hands, Paul George or Michel Green are contacts for the group.
The Heritage Committee
and Harbour Authority
are also active in Winterton and anyone with specific interests in these areas can contact Gerald Piercey about the Harbour Authority or Ed Hiscock about the Heritage Committee.
The Ambulance Service
is always available and lightening quick, but hopefully no one wants to get ahold of them! In case you have an interest in becoming a EMR or just helping in citizen role Paul Coates or Victor Pitcher would welcome a call.
I am proud to call Winterton my home. It can be made better by helping in any of the ways spelled out above.
If there is any way council can improve its service delivery please write us a letter, note or email and we will be pleased to make every effort. Please consider attending a council meeting or getting involved with one of our service groups.
Have a safe and merry christmas and a happy new year.