GRAVENHURST — Some good news on the tax and budget front for taxpayers here.

According to the town, your combined tax bill for all three parts — local, district, education — should be the same this year as last.

How’s that — when the town’s operating budget is going up almost 2 per cent? And it is spending $5 million on capital this year?

Val Sequeira, director of corporate services and chief financial officer, says: “The main reason for this is that the education share of the tax rate continues to decline across Muskoka.”

In addition to the town’s $5 million outlay for capital projects, Gravenhurst’s operating budget is going up 1.8 per cent in 2019.

A news release Thursday from the Town of Gravenhurst says that at Wednesday’s (April 3) special budget meeting, council unanimously approved its 2019 operating budget, which will result in a 1.8% increase to the town’s share of the tax bill this year.

As a result, the town share of the tax bill will go up by $8.20 per $100,000 of assessment on a residential dwelling.

“The Town of Gravenhurst accounts for only 36% of an urban property tax bill and 47% of a rural property tax bill,” says Sequeira.

“After taking into account the District of Muskoka and the education share of the tax bill, Gravenhurst residents will see a consolidated tax rate on their property tax bills that is virtually unchanged from 2018,” he said.

The 2019 operating budget pays for day-to-day municipal services.

In explaining the increase, the release says: On an average home assessed at $230,000, $87 a month pays for services such as fire prevention/protection, snow clearing, road repair, recreation services, library operations, by-law enforcement and community events.

Through contributions to capital reserves, it also ensures timely rehabilitation, repair and replacement  of Town assets which include roads, parks, sports fields, buildings, docks and vehicles.

“This year council strived to provide in both the capital and operation budgets decisions that would continue to support operational excellence at the same time being attentive to the effect on our tax payers,” said Mayor Paul Kelly in the release.

“The new council includes five new members and there was much discussion about council’s strategic priorities during budget deliberations — something we all believe is important. We look forward to working together through a facilitated process in the near future so we may develop a common vision for our community for the four years ahead.

“I would also like to thank (new) district councillor John Gordon for assuming the role of budget Chair and steering Council successfully through the process.”

Full details of the approved 2019 budget can be found at .