MH defers tax exemption conversation
Minden Hills councillors will let members of the next council decide how they want to deal with the end of a tax exemption that has traditionally given elected officials a third of their income tax-free.
As part of its 2017 budget, the federal government introduced changes to the Income Tax Act that will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
Simply allowing full taxation to take effect would reduce take-home income for councillors, and many councils, including the upper-tier Haliburton County council and the councils of its other lower-tier municipalities, have chosen to increase councillors’ compensation by an amount that will mean their take-home income remains the same.
The one-third tax exemption had been given to elected officials with the understanding it would help them offset expenses they incur as part of their duties, such as attending events, etc.
Members of Minden Hills council felt that since the change would impact the members of the next township council, that it should be up to the members of that council to decide how to address it.
In Minden Hills, councillors are paid approximately $18,000 per annum, the deputy mayor about $21,500, and the mayor approximately $27,000.
Municipal elections take place throughout Ontario on Oct. 22, with a new council term beginning in December.
Rebuilding Sunnybrook Bridge
Councillors received a feasibility study on the rehabilitation of the Sunnybrook Bridge, which is the vehicular bridge that crosses the Gull River in Minden’s downtown.
The study, conducted by Tulloch Engineering, presents a number of options for the aging bridge, ranging from a full rehabilitation with major modifications, that would cost $8 to $10 million, to a replacement and road reconstruction option that would cost about $5 million, to a partial rehabilitation that would cost $700,000 to $800,000, to doing nothing, which would cost zero dollars.
“Should council wish to perform no work on the structure, Tulloch Engineering predicts that a load rating would be required within 10 years and extensive rehabilitation or replacement within 15 years,” reads a report from roads superintendent Travis Wilson.
The firm is recommending Option 3, the $700,000 to $800,000 project, which would include barrier-free sidewalks, the replacement of failing retaining walls, replacement of handrails, lighting improvements and the replacement of the asphalt surface.
“Option 3 will marginally improve the sight lines at Invergordon and Water Street as the sidewalk will be cantilevered off of the structure,” Wilson’s report reads. “The useful life of the proposed work is approximately 30 years.”
With the deadline for municipal council nominations passed for the fall municipal election, it means municipal councils in Ontario have entered the so-called “lame duck” period, wherein they are forbidden from making any major financial decisions.
Staff has directed Tulloch to proceed with engineering and design work for Option 3, although the design work could also be used as the basis for a larger project, leaving the tendering and awarding of the construction project up to the next council.
“Should the next term council approve the proposed works in December 2018, the timeline for construction will be moved to the fall of 2019 or 2020,” the report reads.