Minto approves 1.49% increase in municipal levy for 2021

Average impact of town increase on residential tax bill around $8 for average homeowner

MINTO – A 2021 municipal budget with a 1.49 per cent increase in the local tax levy was approved by council here on Dec. 15.

Including a $900,000 contribution to capital reserves, the projected 2021 levy is $5,643,888, up $82,549 or 1.49% from the budgeted 2020 levy.

The projected tax impact of the increase for town purposes is just under 0.6%, or about $7.50 on an average residential home assessed at $242,000.

Based on an estimate of a 3% increase from the County of Wellington (the county’s latest projections show a 2.5% tax increase) and no increase in school taxes, the average Minto property owner would pay an additional 1.91%, or just over $27 more in taxes next year.

The combined increase works out to about $11.30 per $100,000 of residential assessment.

The draft budget projects a modest increases in the tax-supported portion of most departmental budgets, ranging from a low of .007% ($1,433) in public works to 3.91% ($46,010) in administration.

However, the document indicates the building department budget is expected to rise by nearly 41%, or about $90,000, due largely to the addition of a deputy chief building official position partway through 2020.

The cost to compensate Minto’s seven town council members will increase by $705 to $141,705. The increase consists of a 0.5% cost of living increase based on the Consumer Price Index as of September.

No additions to the full-time staff compliment, currently at 45.5, are projected in 2021.

Captital spending of $4.7 million was approved in the budget, although treasurer Gordon Duff advised council “we always reserve the right to modify the capital budget as new grants come in or other changes.”

The capital budget “focuses on investments in infrastructure renewal” and is funded from a combination of tax funded reserves, non-tax funded reserves, development charges, grants, and contributions from operating, states Duff in a written report presented during the Dec. 15 council meeting.

Capital spending for 2021 includes:

  • $77,000 in administration;
  • $40,000 for building and bylaw services;
  • $383,500 for community services;
  • $202,900 for economic development;
  • $380,000 for fire and emergency services;
  • $2,453,000 for Public Works
  • $461,000 for wastewater services; and
  • $783,000 for water services.

Key capital spending initiatives include:

  • $60,000 for computer server replacement.
  • $40,000 for a new pickup truck for the building and bylaw services department;
  • $50,000 for a multi-use sports pad in Harriston; and
  • $91,000 for paving in the Palmerston Industrial Park.

“This is the first time we’ve ever passed our budget as early as this, usually … we’re into April,” noted Mayor George Bridge who commended staff for their efforts.

“We now have a game plan going into next year. I think it’s a fair budget and I just want to say thanks for putting it together and doing it.”

Duff noted the provincial government made things easier for municipalities this year with an early release of allocations for programs like the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund and Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF).

“We were very happy that the province confirmed the (OCIF) allocation at $506,000, which is exactly the same as the previous year, and that took away a lot of the uncertainly in our funding,” Duff stated.

“This is earliest we’ve got all the information that we need … Other years we we’re into January or February waiting for that.”

Deputy mayor Dave Turton asked, “Is there any way we can get that word back to the government, that maybe next year they can continue along the same path?”

Duff suggested municipal officials could mention the impact of the early announcements when meeting with provincial officials over the coming year.

Councillor Mark MacKenzie said the increase in the 2021 budget is the lowest local tax increase since 2000, when the town brought in a zero increase.

“That certainly didn’t work out for us,” he commented.

Councillor Jean Anderson said, “I think it’s been a pretty challenging year. I think the town has done very well.

“It’s great to see that sort of an increase. We weren’t sure where we were going to be at this time.”

She added, “I think we’ve done an admirable job of maintaining services while keeping the budget in reasonable control.”

“The thing I like is our staff, when they bring in a budget, we can trust them,” said councillor Ron Elliott.

“They’re not bringing in extravagant things. They’re not trying to over-budget … I can trust Gord, that when you bring something to us, it is what it is.”

Later in the meeting the 2021 budget bylaw passed unopposed.