Scott Nixon, Times-Advocate staff
SOUTH HURON – South Huron council has adopted the municipality’s 2012 budget and, depending on where you live within the municipality, your municipal tax rate will increase between 2.8 per cent and 3.6 per cent.
Council adopted the budget at its March 19 meeting.
Treasurer Sandy Becker’s report to council indicates ratepayers in the Exeter ward will see a 2.8 per cent tax rate increase for 2012, while for ratepayers in the wards of Stephen and Usborne the tax rate will increase 3.6 per cent. On a house in Exeter assessed at $100,000, the increase amounts to an additional $15.39 on the municipal portion of the tax bill in 2012, while in Usborne and Stephen, a house assessed at $100,000 would see an increase of $17.04.
The difference in the increases in the wards is due to apportionment of assessment, Becker said. The impact on the rural wards of increasing policing costs is greater because of the smaller assessment base in those wards.
South Huron’s operating budget for 2012 is $15,076,673, while the capital budget is $6,629.720.
Becker says in her report to council that, “The taxation amount required to fund the 2012 budget has increased by $411,445, or 8.5 per cent over the 2011 tax levy.”
Becker told council that going into budget deliberations the municipality wanted to maintain a reasonable tax rate while also keeping the ability to complete projects.
Challenges going into the budget were policing costs, which increased 9.6 per cent in South Huron, and represent 36 per cent of the total municipal general levy and a cost of $364 per household, according to Becker’s report. Assessment also increased 3.8 per cent in South Huron in 2012.
To keep the tax levy increase at 8.5 per cent, the municipality used $535,468 of working fund and capital replacement reserves and deferred two projects, representing $640,000, to 2013. Also, $567,250 was borrowed from the municipality’s capital replacement reserve.
The budget also includes $32,200 in community grant requests – the municipality received just over $83,000 in grant requests from the community.
Looking to the future, Becker said the municipality is looking at increasing user fees, consolidating facilities and equipment, reorganizing staff, reviewing service levels and liquidating surplus municipal assets.
Mayor George Robertson said the municipality already has a lot of work to get started on for next year’s budget.
In her report, Becker reports that the largest portion of a ratepayer’s property taxes goes towards the county (41 per cent), followed by South Huron (35 per cent) and education (24 per cent), a distribution that has remained the same for the last three years.
Other council notes:
Municipal insurance renewed
The municipality has renewed its insurance policy with Jardine Lloyd Thompson Canada at a projected cost of $151,937 for 2012. The premium represents a five per cent increase over 2011, according to South Huron corporate services manager Michael Di Lullo.
Di Lullo went on to say that the reason for the increase is because of an increase in assessment to some municipal properties such as the Crediton Community Centre, the new Huron Park water tower and the acquisition of the Huron Park fire hall.
Di Lullo said the property value under the municipality’s ownership has increased 11 per cent and that is the reason for the increase in the insurance premium.
South Huron is considering declaring several parcels of municipal property as “surplus” and exploring how to dispose of them at a fair market price. Chief administrative officer Roy Hardy told council the idea of disposing of the properties is part of the municipality’s long-term asset management and budget strategy.
The properties being considered are a parcel of land on Gill Road in Lambton Shores, two pieces of land on Pryde Boulevard in Exeter, the former water tower site in Huron Park, the former police station at 20 Sanders St. E. in Exeter and three well sites on McTaggart Line, Huron Street and Thames Road.
Hardy recommended proceeds from any sales of the properties be put into a reserve fund.
Coun. Dennis Hockey said he would like to see the public notified which properties are being considered for disposal, something that was echoed by Coun. Wayne DeLuca, who added some residents on Pryde Boulevard have concerns about the municipality’s plans to declare surplus the parcels of land on their street. DeLuca noted those parcels are zoned parkland.
Instead of officially declaring the properties surplus, council opted to receive Hardy’s report for information while Hardy provides information on the properties to the public.