County council approves budget in principle
By Chad Ingram
Published Feb. 28, 2019
Haliburton County councillors approved the 2019 budget in principle during a Feb. 25 meeting, that budget including money for a physician recruiter and further work on transit.
The budget will include a residential tax rate increase of 5.72 per cent, which translates to an increase of $11.39 for every $100,000 of assessment. That is the rate increase for the upper-tier level, and is exclusive of tax increases at each of the four lower tiers, as well as the school board.
As reported earlier, county councillors have been discussing hiring a physician recruiter, a position that would have been coupled with economic development responsibilities. According to a report from chief administrative officer Mike Rutter, “it has become evident that the creation of a job description and operating framework for the economic development portion of the new position is quite complex and will take considerable time. It will be necessary to work out a formal role, a terms of reference on how this position will interact with the economic development staff at the local municipalities, potentially work out a framework for an economic development advisory committee as well as other issues.”
Rutter’s report indicated that could take as long as nine months.
In the meantime, council included $75,000 in the budget for a physician recruiter, which, for now, is to be a part-time position. Half of that money will go toward wages, half toward marketing, advertising and other recruitment materials.
Councillors also allotted $50,000 for continued work on transit.
Last year, the county commissioned a transportation implementation plan from consulting firm IBI Group for $50,000, which outlined a plan for a booked, shared ride service, which it is estimated would cost approximately $300,000 annually to operate. Councillors still have a number of questions about the logistical hurdles of implementing such a system, which they continue to put to county staff and the county’s transportation task force. Council’s goal is to work toward creating a request for proposals to be issued by the end of year, that RFP providing firm prices. If the service level and price tag is to council’s satisfaction, then the goal is to implement a service at the beginning of 2020.
The budget is scheduled to be formally passed on March 27.