Lennox: double digit tax hike a possibility

Wellington North residents and council face a “daunting task” to rein in costs and a possible double digit tax hike.

That was the warning issued by Wellington North councillor and finance committee chairman Andy Lennox at Monday evening’s council meeting.

Lennox, without getting into specifics about costs, said preliminary budget discussions at the finance committee level are not painting a rosy picture on the prospects of keeping costs in line and any tax increases to a minimum.

“I would like to take this opportunity, as we embark on the budget process for this year, to highlight some of the prominent issues that will play a major role in the budget outcome,” he said in a prepared statement.

“I first want to mention some large issues that significantly either reduce income or raise costs which are largely beyond the control of our township.”

Lennox pointed out provincial operating grants to the township will be reduced by five per cent from last year, a decline of about $50,000 on the $1-million Wellington North received last year from the province.

Wellington North will also have to deal with additional costs “due to inflation and to fulfill contractual obligations,” he said.


The township also faces “significant increased debt repayment obligations,” although he was not specific on those costs.

“These large, uncontrollable issues could create a situation where we may need to increase our local township portion of the property tax bill by close to 10 percent, and force us to revisit previously approved water and sewer rate schedules,” Lennox said.

“While we are wrestling with these large issues that will squeeze our finances, we need to find ways to maintain our infrastructure that is a critical part in delivering the reliable services that our … staff work so hard to provide.

“We are facing a daunting challenge.”

The finance committee will be meeting with the various township departments to work through a first draft of the 2011 budget.

That process is expected to take four to six weeks, Lennox said.

“We intend to actively share the content of the refined draft budget with the public to stimulate discussion around priorities of spending in order to create the best possible outcomes for our community,” he added.

The councillor said the first step in creating community involvement was the public  release of his statement.

He also urged residents to contact councillors with any concrete ideas they may have.

“I would like to encourage and invite all stakeholders in our community to participate in the budget preparation process as it is evident we will need creative, constructive ideas to implement as we strive to build our community toward distinction while not overburdening taxpayers,” Lennox said.