Slight tax hike provisionally approved in Cumberland

Cumberland committee of the whole gave the nod Monday for a 1.86-per-cent municipal tax increase for 2014.

Cumberland COW met from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for an in-depth discussion about the draft 2014-2018 financial plan. According to Mayor Leslie Baird, a number of amendments were made, though amendments made in the COW meeting are not official until ratified at a regular council meeting, the next of which is set for March 24.

Financial officer Michelle Mason's staff report suggested a one-per-cent increase to municipal taxes but Baird says council voted to increase that to 1.86 per cent after making a number of changes to the draft financial plan.

The 1.86-per-cent municipal tax increase does not include amounts collected for other taxing authorities, which are expected to raise the overall increase for property owners. Some of these rates are as yet unknown by the Village.

As well, if the solid waste bylaw being considered by council is approved, utility fees for water, sewer and solid waste are expected to rise 1.2 per cent.

One change Baird highlighted when she spoke to the Record after the meeting was a decision to allocate a further $150,000 towards the skatepark project slated for Cumberland Village Park. If this amendment is ratified, the Village will have set aside a total of $300,000 for this project, which is roughly estimated to cost $425,000, with some fundraising expected from the Cumberland Community Schools Society (CCSS) skatepark committee.

Council also voted to move $100,000 into reserves for improvements recommended after the civic cemetery master plan and the Coal Creek Park master plan are completed ($50,000 for each).

The CCSS request for $25,200 per year for two years to fund a youth centre program co-ordinator was denied, according to Baird. But, she noted the Village is hiring a new recreation program manager, and she expects that employee will do some work to increase youth programming.

The United Riders of Cumberland's request for a $11,000 grant-in-aid from the Village was approved.

Amendments outlined during Monday's budget meeting, if ratified by council March 24, will be included in the budget package presented to the public at the March 31 village hall meeting. The public will be invited to provide comment during this meeting.

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