Jeff Heuchert, Gazette staff
The average homeowner in Stratford will pay an additional $54 in property tax in 2013, based on the city budget approved by council Monday evening.
Despite an increase of 2.3 per cent to the municipal portion of the average residential tax bill, the total increase to ratepayers is 1.6 per cent. That is due to a decrease in the education portion of the tax levy.
A homeowner whose 2013 property assessment was $237,068 will pay $2,871 in municipal taxes. That represents the lowest increase passed down by the city in five years. With the education portion added they will pay $3,374.
The final budget, which was presented by director of corporate services André Morin after months of public meetings and staff discussions, was supported by councillors unanimously.
Morin warned due to 2013 being a reassessment year, property taxes will vary considerably across the city, however. For instance, farm owners will be hit with a 17 per cent increase while some commercial and industrial classes will actually see an overall decrease.
Mayor Dan Mathieson applauded finance chair, coun. Tom Clifford, and city staff for their efforts, adding, “it’s nice to have the budget done this early.”
The only comment before the budget was approved came from coun. George Brown, who suggested a 10 cent increase to the public transit rate, but the idea was not supported.
The city’s budget shows expenses totalling approximately $114 million, but will have no impact on the city’s current debt load, which is anticipated to be just shy of $88 million by the end of the year.
Some of the larger costs in the budget include $6.5 million for fire services, $9.4 million for police services, $3.2 million for roads and 5.7 million for sanitary.
Grant requests for 2013, including a minor sports ice subsidy of $126,795, total over $676,000. Other beneficiaries include Stratford General Hospital, $300,000; Gallery Stratford, $41,200; and the United Way Perth-Huron, $25,000.