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Community Guide SS 2017
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Wellington North proposes 3.5% tax levy increase

by Olivia Rutt

KENILWORTH - Wellington North council is considering a 3.5% tax levy increase this year.

CAO Mike Givens presented a proposed 2017 $8.39-million capital and $4.61-million operating budget to the public at the municipal office in Kenilworth on Feb. 13.

“(This is) the largest budget we’ve ever had without entering into any type of debenture,” said Givens.

Of the total budget, just under $7 million is collected from tax dollars. The tax levy portion is increasing by 3.5 per cent or $236,000 from last year’s budget.

By factoring in growth, the tax increase for the average homeowner will be closer to 1.4% (or 2.3% when combined with county and education taxes).

Farmland will see the largest tax change this year, due to a jump in assessment for 2017, explained Givens. An average assessment for farmland went up by about $112,000, therefore township taxes will increase by about  15.5% this year.

Commercial land will see a decrease in taxes by about 18% for the average property. Industrial land contributes the highest amount of taxes with the average property seeing a 14% tax increase.

An average home will see a 1.3% increase and a farmhouse will see about 4.3% increase in taxes this year.

Givens explained that for every dollar, the township retains $0.36, while $0.45 goes to the county and $0.19 goes to the education portion of the tax bill.

Although the county and education portions have not been set, Givens estimated an average home in Wellington North assessed at $236,726 would pay approximately $3,100 in total taxes.

During the question period, Jens Dam asked council if the township should be collecting more through development charges.

Mayor Andy Lennox said development charges were based on projects identified.

“We collected what we believe were appropriate to meet the needs of the community for the future,” he said.

“We will be reviewing the development charges in 2018, as we are required to do, and I think we’ll be looking at different approaches.”

Debt

Wellington North has about $1.2 million in debt, but the province estimates the township can borrow up to $26.6 million over five years. Givens said he is not comfortable with taking on that much debt. However, debt will be considered to fund the wastewater treatment plant in Arthur.

“We haven’t incurred any additional debt in a number of years, but we recognize that there are some major capital projects that are forthcoming that probably will require us to consider debt,” said Givens.

Reserves

The township has just over $9.6 million in reserves, with a large portion in water and wastewater reserves.

“I would say we have healthy reserve funds. That’s something I take great pride in, the fact that we’ve been able to build those reserves,” said Givens.

Resident Jack Benham, said, “I’d like to congratulate both council and staff in what they’ve done in increasing the reserves,” he said.

Dam replied, “I’d like to congratulate the taxpayers for paying it.”

Lennox said in this case most of the reserves were built up through water and wastewater user fees.

Budget highlights include:

-  1.6% increase to wages;

- 6.3% increase to benefits;

- $670,000 for utilities, including hydro;

- $62,000 for the third contribution to Louise Marshall Hospital in Mount Forest;

- full reconstruction projects on James Street and King Street in Mount Forest and Francis Street in Arthur for a total of  $3.8 million;

- $1 million for the Arthur WWTP design phase;

- plow truck at $260,000;

- bridge reconstruction on Concession 6S at $220,000;

- $575,000 for a new pumper truck for the Mount Forest fire station; and

- $132,300 towards Murphy Park in Mount Forest.

Council is expected to pass the 2017 budget at an upcoming meeting.

 

February 17, 2017

 
 

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Community Guide Spring 2017

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