CARROT RIVER— The Town of Carrot River has reduced the amount of their annual property tax increase from 7.5 per cent into 5 per cent, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic implications.
“We were planning for a very substantial property tax increase for 2020,” said Kevin Trew, Carrot River’s administrator. “It’s no secret we got a lot of capital projects that are necessary, 2019 taught us a lot and one of the big things it taught us is that our underground infrastructure is just not where it needs to be.”
The mill rate will remain the same as 2019, at 4.9 mills.
The residential base tax has been adjusted to $1,150, from $1,050 in 2019, while the commercial base tax remains at $700, the same as it was in 2019.
The minimum taxation for both commercial and residential properties has been increased to $1,500, compared to $1,450 in 2019. This would apply to most residential properties within the town.
Trew said that due to the pandemic, council decided a significant tax increase wasn’t in the best interest of the community.
“There was a very good budget surplus planned so we could build up the reserves. Council decided, ‘No, we should stay as close to a balanced budget as possible and not have a reserve.’”
Initially the town would have received a tax revenue of about one million dollars. Now the town is generating about $922,000 through taxes.
As a result of the loss to reserves, Carrot River council has made the decision to cancel planned work on Main Street for the duration of the 2020 year— pushing it back to 2021.
This includes Main Street’s curb and gutters, sidewalks and paving.
“We’ve been working hard over the last month-and-a-half to try to identify some savings,” Trew said.
“Even though that’s not saving on our operating budget, we’re looking at just the idea from a cash flow perspective, it’s a little less cash.”
The town will be receiving some additional revenue from grants for summer employment.
“It’s not a substantial amount either, but it’s still some. So we were able to get some of that figured out.”
Trew said that the town recognizes that the smaller increases can still have a detrimental effect on some families, and that they continue to be committed to having private conversations with any individuals who are struggling to pay property taxes or utility bills.
These meetings would involve town staff and the individual about what resources may be available.
“Our hands are a bit tied but we also have access to some knowledge of things that may help,” Trew said.
“We know we have projects that need to happen in our community to deliver an expected level of service and we’re trying our best to continue that way even in light of the pandemic, and budget shortfalls and people’s pocketbooks that are a little bit lighter.”