Town of Erin officials trying to keep tax increase to 1%

ERIN – Town council’s first glimpse of the 2021 draft budget shows an $85,000 increase to the operating budget over 2020.

That means a one per cent tax increase on residential properties or $18 more on a $600,000 home.

Ursula D’Angelo, director of finance, told Erin council at its special budget meeting on Nov. 17 that the proposed budget is “prudent,” it follows the town’s strategic direction, and it balances “current and future economic needs.”

The budget includes $528,000 in resource requests; $336,000 will come from taxes and the balance from development charges and grants.

The budget forecasts $543,000 resource requests in 2022 with $283,000 funded through taxation. In 2024 the forecast is for $343,800 in requests with $224,000 to come from taxes.

There are a total $25.7 million worth of capital projects in the 2021 budget with the wastewater treatment facility being the largest.

The budget shows wastewater projects funded through debt, “but that’s really a placeholder. It does not mean we will go into debt,” D’Angelo said.

The town is in negotiations with developers, who will absorb most of the cost of the new facility, she said, and the costs will move to a different budget line when those deals are finalized.

Other items in the capital budget include a new rescue vehicle for the fire department, work on culvert 10, road surface treatment on some gravel roads in the municipality and snowplow equipment.

D’Angelo said the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) has delayed reassessment this year, so there is no increase in taxes because of increased assessments.

That’s a hit to the revenue side of the budget she said, but MPAC is expected to conduct reassessments in 2021, so they will have new figures for the 2022 budget.

The draft budget continues to put money into reserve funds and forecasts putting a total $3 million in various reserves over the next five years.

It was pointed out that the Town of Erin portion of residential property taxes makes up 28 per cent of the total bill residents will receive.

Wellington County takes 58 per cent and school boards take 14 per cent.

“We’re trying to avoid a big increase,” D’Angelo said.

The town held a telephone town hall meeting for the public on Nov. 18 for citizens to ask questions and voice their opinions on where tax dollars should be spent.

Many questions had to do with road, bridge and culvert repairs.

Nick Colucci, director of infrastructure services, said a roads needs study is expected to be completed in the new year and that will help prioritize road work.

He said sidewalks and cycling lanes will be considered as roads are reconstructed when the wastewater system is installed.

There is $300,000 in the proposed budget to convert some gravel roads to pavement in 2021, he said.

Colucci said the Town of Caledon is planning work on Winston Churchill Boulevard and because it is a shared boundary road with the Town of Erin, the town will have to contribute.

Four million dollars has been budgeted for that project, he said.

“We don’t have the detail design yet, but I understand a roundabout is being considered,” he said.

Colucci also fielded questions about improved internet service in the region.

He said while it is not a town responsibility, “we are working with internet providers to extend service and looking for funding opportunities to increase service,” and noted the province recently announced funding to improve broadband service in rural communities.

On a question about deferring taxes in 2021 if COVID-19 continues, D’Angelo said the town is monitoring the situation, but “no other municipality is planning on deferring penalties or interest right now, and council has not directed any changes.

“We did delay the deadline for taxes – from October to November and from August to September. It helped quite a lot of households,” she said.

A second draft budget will be presented to council on Dec. 1 and a second telephone town hall for the public is slated for Dec. 2.

Questions can be submitted to in advance or through phone participation.