Proposed $18M Wellington North budget projects 1.8% impact

KENILWORTH – Council took a first look at Wellington North’s proposed 2020 budget on Dec. 16.

The proposed $18.4-million budget is expected to have a 1.8% impact to taxpayers, said director of finance Adam McNabb.

In an email following the meeting McNabb explained the proposed budget for 2020 is currently $18,403,978, and includes transfers to capital in the amount of $3,681,047.

He added the capital budget is $18,917,988, but is predominately funded by prior year carry forward (abouy 50%).

McNabb said “$7,672,957 is the amount of taxation levy required to fund the fully loaded budget – this represents an increase of 3.33% over 2019.”

He explained the tax levy increase is 3.33%; however, the township saw assessment growth of 1.53%, thus the  impact on existing tax base is 1.8%.

In his brief presentation at council, McNabb explained budget work began with an in-depth review of inter-functional transfers in September and October. Treasurer meetings with department heads occurred in October and November as needed.

McNabb pointed out Dec. 16 was the first budget meeting with council and staff and additional meetings will be scheduled as needed.

In terms of budget guidelines, McNabb explained work involved freezing most operating account budgets at 2019 levels unless cost pressures were documented.

He said corporate-wide cost pressures include salary and wage increases, an anticipated health benefits cost increase of  2.3%, a potential municipal insurance renewal increase of 10%, and hydro increase of 2%.

McNabb said council directed that Arthur Wastewater Treatment Plant work continue in 2020.

Additionally he said conservation authority budgets have not been finalized by the Grand River Conservation Authority or the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority.

McNabb allocated 5% increases to these costs within the 2020 operating budget.

He anticipates the coming budget includes minimal municipal service level changes, but the budget does include changes to the staff complement.

He said 2020 will see a decline in the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) allocation by $13,100 to $1,283,700; however, McNabb said this also represents a budget-to-budget increase of $32,550 (the OMPF allocation was not known at the time of 2019 budget passage).

He noted 2020 also marks the last three consecutive annual township debentures with balloon payments coming due – $1,192,000  for roads, wastewater, water.

McNabb noted that council is always on the lookout for new/alternative revenue streams to bridge funding gaps.

He said that in 2019 Wellington North had real assessment growth of 1.53%.

In addition, McNabb said there is an increase in assessment due to the province-wide reassessments done by MPAC in 2016 which are being phased in from 2017 to 2020.

He noted Wellington North’s reassessment growth in 2020 is currently estimated at 6.77%, a slight decrease from previous years.

McNabb stated the proposed budget results in a  1.8% impact on the existing tax base and includes 79 capital projects as identified by township staff.

He also noted this is the last of a four-year phase-in prior to a new assessment cycle and that the 2020 budget marks the third consecutive year of significant debenture debt servicing costs.

Wellington North council intends to hold an information meeting before passing the budget in early January.