Hastings Highlands residents could see a 1.5-percent jump on their municipal tax bill.

Council presented their proposed operating budget earlier this week. CAO and Treasurer David Stewart says after multiple meetings with council, the 1.5-percent jump was determined to be what they wanted to target for 2020’s operating budget.

The municipality’s total expenses jump up nearly $500,000 for 2020 with the proposed budget to $10,198,332. Stewart explains the council is beginning to fund components of its strategic plan. “Council is looking at their strategic plan and they will be costing the plan through their upcoming budgets,” he explains.

One of the four priorities noted in the proposed budget is “be stewards of municipal assets and maintain roads and bridges.” A roads study will be done in 2020, which is estimated to cost $10,000.

The biggest jumps for expenses with the proposed budget are for environmental services, which jumps up over $300,000 to $1,102,355. That’s because of a $245,200 increase for contracted services, with it being noted that the Waste-Free Ontario Act is “restricting our ability to make decisions due to many uncertainties.” The new act makes producers responsible for the disposal of their products and packaging. Protection services could also see an increase to $2,136,765. Part of the reason for the increase for protection services is because the municipality hired a new building inspector, which they estimate will cost $73,000. They note the cost should be offset by the revenue they get from building permits. That’s a nearly $200,000 increase from 2019’s operating budget.

$396,498 will be budgeted for debt payments if the budget is approved by council.

Council will vote on the proposed budget on March 4th, but Stewart is asking residents for their thoughts on it before that happens.