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Tax hike coming to Ramara residents 0

By Roberta Bell, Orillia Packet & Times

RAMARA TWP. - 

Ramara residents can expect a 2.12% tax hike this year.

Municipal politicians wrapped up deliberations Thursday, approving “a maintenance budget” of about $15 million, said Richard Bates, the township’s chief administrative officer.

Based on the figures, Ramara’s own tax rate is up by 3.42%, Bates said, but a drop in the county and school board levies has lightened load on taxpayers.

The residential tax increase translates to $36.50 annually for a home assessed at $200,000, he said, noting it works out to about $3 per month.

The budget is expected to be ratified by council March 4.

 

Tourism

After a two-year hiatus, the township will once again be investing in Ontario’s Lake Country (OLC).

The regional tourism marketing organization removed Ramara from its signs in 2012 after the municipality failed to once again provide the requested $15,000 the other local municipalities did.

“It’s always come down to a vote 4–3 either for or against, and this year it just happened to be a 4–3 vote in favour of Lake Country,” Bates said.

Mayor Bill Duffy, who has supported funding Lake Country in the past, said council felt pressure from the business community to rejoin the organization.

“I think it’s the right way to go,” he said.

Lake Country marketing manager Jennifer Whitley was also pleased by the decision.

It will make it easier to collaborate with the township, she said, noting while some Ramara businesses had been paying the $150 fee to be a part of the organization anyway, the benefits will be more widely felt with municipal co-operation.

The $15,000 from Ramara will be invested into marketing and advertising for Lake Country.

 

Roads

Ramara Road 47 will be getting a facelift this year.

About $650,000 has been allotted to rebuild the half-kilometre stretch of the road running along the Trent Canal.

“It’s a very, very narrow, winding road,” Bates said. “We’ve had a number of vehicles go off the road and slide into the lake in that area.”

The road will be widened and guardrails, added, he said, noting the drainage systems underneath it will also be reconstructed.

The tender for the project will go out after the budget is ratified.

 

Energy

The township is starting a sustainability fund.

The $30,000 of revenue generated by the solar panels installed on the Ramara Centre, Fire Hall 1 and Works Yard 1 through the province’s micro feed-in-tariff program is the basis for the fund.

The Ontario Power Authority will be matching the amount as part of the program, meaning the township has about $60,000 to invest in energy upgrades like high-efficiency lighting in municipal buildings and motors at water and sewage plants.

“It’s basically a one-year payback,” Bates said of the program.

 

Recreation

Despite the adoption of a new master recreation plan at the end of last year, Ramara won’t be making any major changes to programming and facilities in 2013.

The $481,000 set aside in the budget is to maintain and run existing programs and facilities, Bates said.

The plan, which contains 75 recommendations, outlines ways Ramara can improve its parks and recreation over the next 10 to 15 years.

“That won’t really have an impact on the budget until next year,” Bates said. “It will take us a year to get a priority list going.”

 

Policing

The cost of policing the township has gone down $7,000 from last year.

About $800,000 has been allocated this year, Bates said.

Orillia OPP opened a new community policing office on Ramara Road 47 in late 2012, providing officers a place to make pit stops, phone calls and conduct interviews.

roberta.bell@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @roberta__bell

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