Erin fine tunes 2020 budget with recommended 2%tax increase

ERIN – Councillors received the second draft of the 2020 Erin budget on Dec. 3 and it looks much like the first draft, with a recommendation for a 2% tax increase in each of the next four years.

The draft budget has expenditures totaling $12.9 million. The proposed tax increase would add $29.57 to the tax bill of a residential property assessed at $500,000.

The increase is for town taxes only, which make up 27.5% of the total tax bill. Education taxes represent 15% and Wellington County taxes 57.5%.

Subject to further direction from council, staff is scheduled to present the final budget and forecasts for approval on Dec. 17.

The first draft for 2020 and the 2021-2023 forecasts were presented to council on Nov. 19, and operational and capital requests were reviewed at public meetings Nov. 20 and 21.

On Nov. 27, the town held a telephone town hall, a large scale conference call that allowed people from various locations to call-in and participate in a town hall-style meeting.

It was a one-hour session with a presentation on the budget, and a question period with staff members and Mayor Allan Alls.

“Many engaged callers tuned in,” said communications officer Jessica Spina.

“We received a variety of questions regarding the town’s 2020 Budget, through the call and social media. Over 100 callers were connected, with roughly 45 callers that stayed on for the entire call.

“The town will continue to explore new ways to connect with residents, while continuing to provide open and transparent information.”

The second draft presented on Dec. 3 (after the Advertiser had gone to press) contained minor changes, including money allocated for flower planters in downtown Hillsburgh.

The Let’s Get Hillsburgh Growing committee, which raises funds for many local improvements, had requested $5,500 for the planters, and council directed staff to include this in the budget.

There was no impact on the tax levy as the money was reallocated from existing funds for streetscape ($5,000) and the Community Oriented Policing advisory committee, which is not active ($500).

Planned contributions to the infrastructure reserve were increased by $17,000 in 2022 and $47,500 in 2023 to keep the tax rate at 2%.

These changes were the result of removing capital spending for a town hall roof replacement and Erin fire station maintenance from the building condition assessment, since they had already been completed.

For the 2020 budget, estimated assessment growth is $351,000 or 4.98%, of which 1.55% is related to new construction and 3.43% is assessment increases for existing properties.

This will push the local tax increase higher than 2% on some properties.