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Council approved a number of changes to its fees schedules
by David Meyer
ELORA - Centre Wellington council has approved numerous fees and charges in its bylaw for 2012.
While it did not approve some of them immediately, it did finally pass some parts of the bylaw on Dec. 20 to ensure there are fees and charges in place to start the year, Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj said in an interview on Dec. 22.
Councillors debated the high cost of burial.
Adult single and adult double burial plots jumped 6.3% to $1,700 and $3,400, and a plot of a child of up to eight years climbed 7.8% to $500. Foundation single and double lots also climbed 3.7%.
Columbarium costs also rose. The top two rows moved upward 5.1% to $2,000, and the middle two rows climbed 5.0% to $1,880; while the bottom two rows jumped 5.0% to $1,765.
Interment fees for cremation lots (on weekdays) went up 6.8% to $390, and for the columbarium they rose 8.5% to $255.
Saturday or emergency charges climbed to $1,420, up 1.4%, and cremation lots went up 7.3% to $585 and the columbarium fee jumped 8.9% to $305.
Flat marker installation increased 3.8% to $62.50.
Councillor Mary Lloyd was concerned because burial plot fees have doubled over the last three years, and she said people are unhappy about those increases in such a short time.
Treasurer Wes Snarr said his staff had discussed the issue, but noted that they used a comparison of similar sized municipalities, then checked again and found Centre Wellington’s increases still do not meet those in other similar size centres.
Councillor Kelly Linton asked if Snarr expects those fees to level off.
Snarr said they are reviewed every year, but he cannot predict what they might be in a few years.
He noted that there was a big increase in cemetery related fees last year because they had been so low for so long.
Councillor Walt Visser said, “We were so grossly undercharging it was a burden to the municipality.” He added that the issue became cutting services to cemeteries or having taxpayers pay it.
He commended staff for spreading the increases over three or four years.
Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj said Centre Wellington has always taken great pride in its cemeteries.
The parks and recreation department saw numerous rate increases, but also some with no changes at all. Some changes will take effect only in April.
Sports is generally going to cost more in the coming year.
Council approved a rate increase for ice time (prime and non-prime time, at 4%, with minor sports facing a 3.6% increase in prime time and non-prime time ice at 4%.
Floor time in the summer jumped 4% in prime time, and 7.7% in non prime hours. Minor sports, which gets a discount, faced a 4.8% hike in hourly fees, and the rates for tournaments and day rentals for dances climbed 3.8%, with a set up fee jumping 3.7%.
Board room fees for non profit user groups had no increase, but regular rates climbed 4.3% for four hours maximum use, and minor sports pays a hike of 3.7%. There were also hikes in those ranges for the mezzanine and streetscape at the Fergus sportplex.
Community hall rentals saw no increases. That includes Belwood. The costs for security and deposits also had no increases.
The weight room will see increases mainly around 3.7%, and advertising on arena signs will also increase in that range.
Ball and rugby field rates are under review and will be presented separately in the new year.
There are no increases at the theatre for rentals.
Lloyd asked why groups are being charged a new fee of $15 next year when cheques are issued immediately.
Snarr said it is a cheque fraud protection system. He said the bank does some work comparing cheques, and if they have to check further, they charge a fee, so the township is simply billing it back.
Lloyd said all groups sell tickets through the box office, and to get that money back, people using the theatre are paying a fee of $15.
Snarr said it will be implemented in the new year, and usually the groups involved “want their money” quickly.
Lloyd said she does not understand why they have to pay to get their own money returned.
Ross-Zuj said that happens only if the group is in a hurry.
Lloyd argued that a lot of organizers have to pay a performer before the performance.
But councillor Steve VanLeeuwen said, “What the bank is charging us, we don’t want to flip to the taxpayer.”
Lloyd also wondered why groups had to pay a 15% fee if they bring in their own caterer.
Snarr said that has been in place a couple of years.
Dorothy Smith, of the parks and recreation department, explained some groups want to provide their own service, but that means the township’s concession stand is closed, and “We lose. We charge them to close it.”
Councillor Fred Morris wondered about a fee to place a projector screen in the theatre. The fee is $119.
Councillor Kelly Linton explained that takes two people to set up, and is “a lot of manual labour.”
In the clerk’s department, there were only two increases. Encroachment agreement fees climbed 4.3% and film location permits went up 4.8%.
Snarr noted that there is still a fee required to obtain an agenda from the township, but that service has not been used in several years because agendas are now placed on the township’s web site. It remains in place in case someone asks for that service at $300 per year including mailing costs.
There were only a few minor increases in the finance department.
In the planning department, fees increased generally at 3.8%.
In the fire department, fees and charges for services were increased in 2011 to match the Ministry of Transportation rates per vehicle at $410, up from $405 in 2009. The fee is $205 per vehicle per half hour thereafter. Since those rates are reconsidered every four or five years and were changed only recently, there is no increase this year.
December 30, 2011
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