Today's date: Saturday August 23, 2014 Vol 47 Issue 34
   
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Guelph-Eramosa proposes 6.6% tax levy increase in draft budget

by Chris Daponte

BRUCEDALE

After months of budget changes and deliberations, Guelph-Eramosa officials seem to have settled on a proposed 2013 tax levy increase of 6.6%.

On Feb. 21 the township hosted a public meeting to allow residents to comment on the proposed budget. Two people attended the meeting.

The proposed document includes $5,032,466 to be raised through taxes, up $311,651 or 6.6% from the 2012 figure of $4,720,815 (in 2012 council approved a 9.1% tax levy increase).

The township held two preliminary budget meetings in December, at which time council proposed a 6.4% levy increase.

The small increase since that time, explained finance manager Linda Cheyne, is largely the result of increasing the township’s annual donation to East Wellington Community Services (EWCS) from $10,000 to $16,027 to help offset capital costs at the food bank in Rockwood.

A major change in the latest budget document is the removal of a $1.9 million reconstruction of Guelph Road 1, from Paisley Road to Wellington Road 124. Council applied in January  through the Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative (MIII) for a grant to cover 90 per cent of the total project cost.

That application was denied so the township has decided to forego the project this year. The $200,000-plus the township would have committed to the project will remain in reserves, so the change does not have a financial impact on the overall budget.

Cheyne said in her report the 2013 budget supports “maintaining and improving current service levels. It also supports active living and improved quality of life in our community, infrastructure sustainability and community safety and awareness.”

Mayor Chris White agreed with that assessment and said the goal is to provide a high level of service at a reasonable cost.

“Nobody likes to pay taxes and nobody likes increases,” White said, referencing the 6.6% local tax levy increase.

However, the mayor noted the local tax bill represents a reasonable cost for services provided, considering other household bills.

According to Cheyne, if the budget is approved, the owner of an average Guelph-Eramosa home assessed at $365,000 will pay $952 in township taxes this year, up from $892 in 2012.

The county portion of taxes on the same home would be $2,427 (up 3.8% from $2,338), while the province’s education portion will decrease slightly (from $780 to $774).

The result is a total 2013 tax bill of $4,153 - up about 3.6% from $4,010 in 2012.

“Hats off to the county for keeping its increase low ... hats off to the province for keeping the education portion low,” said councillor Doug Breen.

Noting the township receives about 23% of the total tax bill (the county receives 58% and the province 19%), Breen added county council has kept its tax levy increase low the last couple of years, which helps lower tier municipalities get more work done.

Councillors offered few comments on 2013 expenditures and are expected to approve the budget next week.

Capital projects in the 2013 draft budget include:

- $55,990 for asset management planning;

- $93,000 for a final top coat of asphalt on Oliphant Street in Everton and several streets in Rockwood;

- $117,500 for improvements to a Sideroad 20 bridge;

- $165,000 for four street paving projects in Eden Mills;

- $188,000 for various fire department items, including a new SUV command vehicle ($50,000), 15 sets of new bunker gear and other protective equipment ($53,000), and parking lot and entrance upgrades at the Rockwood hall ($70,000);

- $225,000 to pulverize and pave Speedvale Avenue West, from Wellington Road 32 to the Guelph border;

- almost $300,000 in parks and recreation projects, including expansion of the Rockwood cemetery ($35,000), replacing the roof and adding a concrete walkway at the former town hall ($35,000 total), adding auxiliary power connections at the Rockmosa community centre ($50,000), and two playground replacement projects ($50,000 each);

- $420,000 to complete paving of Jones Baseline, between Wellington Roads 124 and 22;

- $663,472 to finish the office expansion in Brucedale;

- $800,000 to reconstruct and pave Sideroad 20, from Jones Baseline to 5th Line;

- $1.18 million for water projects, including a new generator ($70,000), a water main river crossing ($150,000) and a new pumping station ($750,000); and

- $2.95 million in wastewater projects, the majority of which is earmarked for projects to increase capacity and convert the Rockwood pre-treatment plant from a syphon system to a pumping system.

Vol 46 Issue 09

March 1, 2013

ReliableFord

Wellington County

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