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Guelph-Eramosa township proposes $18.8-million budget

by Jaime Myslik

GUELPH-ERAMOSA - Guelph-Eramosa Township presented its budget to an empty gallery during a public meeting on Jan. 29.

Only councillors, staff and reporters were present.

The budget, essentially unchanged from previous versions, proposed a 1.94 per cent property tax increase this year to raise an additional $123,812 for the municipality.

On average, that means an increase of $4.83 in taxes per $100,000 worth of residential assessment for a total of $270 in township taxes.

“It’s a steady as you go (budget),” Mayor Chris White said. “Maintain the services, maintain the infrastructure; we’ve got capital projects to do.”

When looked at in combination with the estimated Wellington County tax increase of 1.45% and an estimated 0% increase in education taxes per $100,000 of assessment, Guelph-Eramosa residents will see a 1.91% increase in their overall tax bill.

For every $100,000 of residential assessment, Guelph-Eramosa residents would give $270 to the township, $628 to Wellington County and $179 for education for a total of $1,077. That value is up $20 from last year.

In Rockwood, the average house is valued at about $500,000. Those residents would see their annual tax bill increase by about $100 to a total of $5,388. Of that $100 increase, the township would receive $24.

“The increase is below inflation,” White said. “Even when you get to the final line, which includes county and education, you’re still below two (per cent) so it’s a good budget that way.”

The township is proposing a total budget of $18.8 million for both operations and capital initiatives.

About $7.2 million (38.3%) of the revenue comes from non-tax sources like user fees, grants, financing, development charges and reserves; $6.6 million (35.1%) comes from taxation; and $5 million (26.6%) from water and wastewater user fees and development charges.

“Historically ... we would have gotten more of our revenue from property taxes but you see the shift that now we’re starting to collect more user fees and pay for more through grants and funds,” director of finance Linda Cheyne explained.

White added, “It’s nice to see the revenue portion grow as opposed to the tax. It’s nice to have the revenue ... sources growing.”

One of those grants is the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF). This year the township is receiving $86,000 more than in 2017, for a total of $292,000. Cheyne explained that value will jump to $450,000 in 2019 and to $445,000 in 2020.

The township will also be receiving an additional $18,000 in gas tax funding.

“All of those combined go to help out with our infrastructure,” Cheyne said.

“So the more money we get like that through grants and funding makes it just a little bit easier to get done what we need to do.”

The township will also collect $154,000 through taxation to contribute to a dedicated reserve fund for infrastructure renewal.

White said one of the rising costs within the municipality is fire protection.

In this year’s budget $60,000 is going towards the completion of a fire master plan, which has not occurred in the township for more than a decade.

“We’re going to do a fire review to see how the services are carried on, not just by our department ... there’s fire plans going on all over the place,” White said.

“Puslinch is looking at it, the city is looking at it, so we have to figure out how we fit in that overall fire services plan.

“See if there’s other options, see what works best as they do their plans. We want to make sure we’re doing the right things.”

Currently the township receives fire protection from four different services: 147 square kilometres is covered by Rockwood, 117km2 by the Guelph Fire Department, 24km2 by Centre Wellington Fire and Rescue, and 8km2 by Woolwich Fire Department.

The budget includes:

- $257,453 for planning;

- $1.9 million for general administration ($91,000 in capital spending);

- $2 million  for protection of person and property ($111,000 for fire and emergency services capital spending and $40,000 for building department capital spending);

- $3.2 million for parks and recreation ($1.3 million in capital spending);

- $5 million for environmental services ($2.1 million in capital spending); and

- $6.5 million for transportation ($2.7 million in capital spending).

Council had not received any public input as of Jan. 29 and plans to pass the budget at the Feb. 5 regular council meeting.


February 2, 2018


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