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Council met last night to hash out the 2014 Town of Parry Sound budget. I believe we have the outlines of the budget at the 99% level of completion.

The bottom line is that the tax rate will probably only go up 1% in 2014. But the net to  property owners will be a 2.5% increase because of the ongoing hike in property values as assessed by MPAC. The good news is that your property is worth more this year than last. The bad news is that property taxes will be higher even if there is no increase in the tax rate (rate times property value). The 2014 tax hike of about 2.5% could have been a little higher had the school costs not gone down. Once again it’s a god news / bad news situation. The good news is that the school costs and levy have gone down. The bad news is that many people feel the school board is not providing students with the necessary resources and facilities to succeed.

There was talk of tax rate drops in future years if the OPP costs are more fairly allocated among the communities as has been proposed by the provincial government and endorsed by the OPP.

Council made some tough decisions. There were a couple of items that I wished would have made it into the 2014 budget, but you can’t always get what you want. You need to work with what you are given. Staff was given the task of carving another $30K out of the budget to hit the 1% levy increase target. So there is still some work to be done, but I don’t think it will require much, if any, significant discussion on the part of Council.

A Parry Sound Abstract (Parry Sound in Black & White)

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I’m sorry you weren’t at the budget meeting last night. It isn’t televised, and only the North Star was there to cover the discussions (except of course ParrySounds.com, who is still not accorded any of the privileges of traditional media). As an aside I note that the North Star, actually Metroland Media, has acquired the domain parrysound.com to post local news. I wonder if they are trying to cash in on the popularity of this not-for-profit site, parrysounds.com. There are no ads here to grab your eyeballs. (Okay, calm down, I’m kidding!! The North Star does a nice job of covering local news and we are a better community for their work, even if they pick on me in their editorials. I guess it’s just the pressure they feel from having a top notch competitor. Just kidding, again!!) I suppose the North Star will have more information about the budget decisions in an upcoming issue of the newspaper (print and online). An aside – the Citizen’s Finance Committee is seemingly ‘kaput’. There were no current (former?) members in attendance.