Municipality of Rhineland Council has approved $16.52 million in expenditures for 2023/24.
That figure is a bit misleading, however, with $5.1 million of that covered by the Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) program to fix last spring's flood damage. That leaves the Municipality with an $11.42 million dollar budget, up $1.78 million in 2022/23.
"(Inflation) was huge in putting together our budget," said Jake Heppner, Chair of the Finance committee. "When we started our process, we were using 8.1 per cent as inflationary factors so, you use a number like that you can see how that impacts everything that you buy - equipment and so on."
Heppner added, the increase in basket funding from the Province helped offset some of the affects of inflation. The Municipality of Rhineland received an additional $243,000 in provincial support funding as result of the top-up, and will use it reduce the rate charged to tax payers.
And how much can rate payers expect their tax bills to change?
In total, assessment values increased 10.83% in the municipality, totaling $662,026,060. As a result, the mill rate applied to property tax calculations went down from 8.761 to 8.361. The combination of increased assessment and lower mill rate still translated into tax increases, for the most part, across Rhineland.
The exception is the L.U.D. of Gretna is were taxes for residential and commercial are decreasing 12.4%. This, noted Reeve Don Wiebe, is the result of a new special service levy taking effect.
"We think that puts Gretna in a more competitive mill rate," he explained. "It's good for Gretna in terms of looking at, going forward, economic development and that kind of stuff. Maybe it'll help in attracting a bit more activity there."
As for any big spending slated for the coming year, Council has set aside $9.3 million for capital projects - $5.1 million, again, coming from the DFA program. The rest will be spent on completing Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Priority Grain Roads project, the lift station and public works/fire hall renovation in Plum Coulee, and the ongoing soap stock removal at the Altona/Rhineland Landfill. $177,000 has also been earmarked in the 2023 budget for equipment purchases.
Meantime, a delegation attended Wednesday's Public Hearing on the 2023 Financial Plan, renewing calls for the Municipality halt funding to the South Central Regional Library. The group claims material accessible at SCRL branches, which the group deems as child pornography, have created an unsafe environment for kids.
"I don't want to belittle these peoples' concerns but I think, very strongly, that there's a process to handle that," replied Reeve Don Wiebe. "Whether you talk about the appropriate selection of books, the Library Act dictates how that should be handled whether it's an appeal process and so on." Wiebe added, there is a degree of separation between the Library Act, which governs Manitoba libraries, and the Municipal Act which local governments must abide by. "I urged Council to be very careful not to tread into that area."