Town of Stonewall unveils 2019 financial plan

Town of Stonewall mayor Clive Hinds reads aloud a resolution during a council meeting inside town hall in Stonewall, Man. on April 17, 2019. (Adam Peleshaty/The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times)

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Ratepayers in Stonewall will see a municipal tax increase of 2.87% along with street improvements and borrowing funds for a pair of projects if the town’s 2019 financial plan, unveiled at a public hearing inside
council chambers on April 23, is passed by council.

After a $1.877 million net operating surplus last year, the town plans on budgeting $8.44 million in expenditures for 2019. As well as the tax increase, the solid waste special services levy is slated to increase by $21.60 per household and water rates will increase by 2.7%.

Trailer license fees will also increase by $5 per trailer per month.

“Budgets are never easy they include trade-offs and tough decisions as to what can and cannot be done in any one year,” Town of Stonewall chief administrative officer Wally Melnyk wrote in an email to The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times. “From my perspective, I think the council did a good job given the circumstances they faced.”

The town will support two new major projects through debenture funding. To pay for land acquisition, site servicing and capital costs, the town has borrowed $7 million for its personal care home project, but Melnyk is unsure what the actual cost will become.

“We aren’t sure of the exact number just yet. The total needed will be dependent on an announcement and what that announcement provides approval for,” he explained.

Meanwhile, an additional $500,000 will be provided towards the initiative to restore the iconic landmarks, which is expected to cost at least $1.5 million. The $7.5 million total must be repaid by the town over the next 20 years, but public hearings need to be held before council approval. The town is already on the hook for $770,684 in debt repayment for the Stonewall Quarry Park Heritage Arts Centre and the Veterans Memorial Sports Complex.

Capital projects to be funded by the town include upgrades to 3rd Street West between 5th Avenue South and 9th Avenue South (funded by the Gas Tax reserve), traffic and pedestrian lighting on 4th Street East, a new fire truck and upgraded town signage on Provincial Road 236.

Other aspects of the plan also include:

• The purchase of land for an economic development project;

• The implementation of a $99 annual family pass at Kinsmen Lake;

• Thirteen organizations will receive grants from the town;

• Upgrades to the walking path along Sunset and Shady Lanes, as well as the drainage at Main Street and 3rd Avenue South;

• Considering wheel carts for 2021 to replace blue bags and boxes for recycling;

• Installing Wi-Fi internet at Stonewall Quarry Park, and;

• Spending $1 million on its lift station project, $300,000 for its lagoon project and $100,000 for water supply upgrades.