Guelph-Eramosa council approves 5.6% tax levy increase

Guelph-Eramosa residents are faced with a 5.6% levy increase this year, but due to assessment growth in the township the average tax increase will actually be closer to 4.8%.

Council unanimously approved a $16.72-million budget on Monday night, including a $4,327,066 levy – up from about $4.1-million last year.

Mayor Chris White said given the pressures faced by the municipality, he is happy with this year’s budget.

“The township continues to face challenges with significant increases to insurance and inflation costs,” White said in a press release.

This year the township will pay $316,964 for insurance, up $59,189 or 23% over 2010. The 2011 figure represents about 7% of the overall tax levy this year.

“In light of this, we have approved what we believe is a responsible budget … and have managed to ensure the continuation of services that are of priority to the community,” White said.

The average residential taxpayer, with a home assessed at $334,600 will pay $829 in township taxes this year and $3,898 in total taxes (estimated). Last year the same home would have been assessed at $316,400 and the owner would have paid $791 and $3,792 respectively.

Guelph-Eramosa officials are quick to point out the average increase in overall tax bills will be about $106 , which represents a 2.8% increase. The township’s share of the total tax bill is about 21%, while 20% goes to the province for education and the majority (59%) goes to the county.

Major capital expenses in the 2011 budget include:

– over $3.2-million in upgrades to the wastewater system, including sewer mains, pumps and the pre-treatment plant;

– $1,972,351 for renovations and accessibility upgrades at the township office – dependent upon provincial funding (with just under $1.48-million from the provincial grant and the remaining $493,088 from a  debenture);

– $750,000 for the construction of a new water pumping station;

– $291,900 for pulverizing and paving work on the 6th Line;

– $235,140 for pulverizing and paving of Rockwood streets;

– $234,934 for upgrades to Rockwood sidewalks;

– $180,000 to resurface tennis courts;

– $113,300 for new self-contained breathing apparatus for the fire department;

– $95,000 for a culvert replacement on Jones Baseline;

– $92,160 to buy out a lease on a township grader;

– $80,000 for the development of a new well;

– $55,000 for two new pick-up trucks for the public works department;

– $50,000 for new parks and recreation department vehicles (panel van and electric utility vehicle);

– $45,000 for a parks and recreation master plan;

– $37,000 for new bunker gear for the fire department, although fire chief John Osborne has stated that full amount may not be required;

– $37,000 for land acquisition;

– $30,000 for computer upgrades;

– $25,532 for the completion of the Marden Park project (including soccer nets, a walkway, bleachers, flag pole, flush valve, eaves and the erection of a windmill);

– $25,000 to determine the feasibility of upgrading a bridge on Mill Road;

– $25,000 for a new UV system at the Rockmosa splashpad;

– $24,000 to replace the roof of the Glady Hanah chapel;

– $17,000 for road resurfacing at Lloyd Dyer Park;

– $12,000 for the Rockwood-to-Eden Mills trail; and

– $10,000 for water system mapping.

White added the 2011 budget “allows us to pursue funding opportunities and support a prosperous, healthy and growing community for future years.”