Wellington County has pared its proposed tax increase down by a tenth of one per cent, but Erin Mayor Al Alls hopes Councillors will cut a little deeper.
County Council held a special meeting last week to get an overview of the 2017 Budget and 2017-2021 Five Year Plan, in advance of January committee meetings. They’ve cut the tax hike to 3.3 per cent – down from 3.4 per cent.
“I’ve urged them to take another look at it,” said Alls. “Some people can’t afford to live here – residents are not getting that kind of increase in their pay. I’m even more concerned about the five-year projection.”
Staff reported that 2017 operating expenditures and transfers would be $200.4 million. Capital investments are expected to be $31.6 million in 2017, and total $163.4 million over five years.
About 56 per cent of capital spending over the five years will be financed by taxes and reserves. Federal and provincial grants could cover 15.6 per cent – with about $14 million coming in from the Federal Gas Tax. Development Charges will provide an estimated $7.6 million.
Wellington expects to take on $22.3 million in new debt over five years for capital spending. Tax increases are projected at 3.8 to 4.4 per cent from 2018 to 2021.
Ward 9 County Councillor Pierre Brianceau said the base increase in 2017 taxes would have been 2 per cent. But they are expecting to add .5 per cent to cover the cost of gravel pit assessment reductions.
In addition, there will be .4 per cent to cover increased Hydro costs and another .4 per cent to make up for reduced Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) grants, which partially offset farm tax rebates.
That all adds up to a 3.3% increase to the County portion of the tax bill – to be blended with the Town increase (2 per cent) and education taxes.
“Roads infrastructure needs are the driving force behind the County’s tax levy requirements, representing 82 per cent of the 2017 levy increase,” said Brianceau. For this budget, a 1 per cent increase or decrease represents $899,400 in County spending.
Growth of 1.24 per cent in property assessment values across the county was higher than expected. That has already offset the tax increase by .65 per cent.
When the County increase was at 3.4 per cent, Ursula D’Angelo, Director of Finance/Treasurer for the Town of Erin, estimated the final blended rate increase at 2.41 per cent, or $27.56 for each $100,000 of a home’s assessed value.
County Committees are taking a final look at the budget this month, and County Council could approve the final package on January 26.