It’s not officially passed yet, but it’s likely Quinte West council will pass its $83 million operating budget as proposed, at a regular meeting March 19.
At a special budget meeting Monday night, several councillors stated they thought staff had done a great job with the budget and they were prepared to support it as is.
Councillor Sally Freeman said the city was ” so lucky to be able to improve infrastructure and build better facilities while at the same time maintaining services and holding tax increases to below the inflation rate. We are lucky to have 8 Wing Trenton helping us financially in so many ways.”
The budget shows a 1.85% tax increase for residential property owners in all four wards.
On an average house assessed at $217,000 in Quinte West, the increase would add around $50 to the local tax bill a year.
Meanwhile, the budget shows a tax increase of 24% on farm properties. However, staff say that while the percentage increase seems very high, the actual average dollar amount is not, as it works out to just $7.20 a month.
By comparison, staff say, the low residential increase of 1.85% works out to an extra $4.20 a month.
Tax rates for industrial property will go up 4.5% and just over 3% for commercial property.
The proposed 2018 operating budget totals just over $83 million, which is a little over $2.4 million higher than last year.
Total salaries and benefits come in at $18.5 million.
OPP costs rose only 0.7% from 2017 and council learned that policing costs had dropped from over $10 million three years ago to $8.8 million this year.
Also in his report to council, Director of Corporate and Financial Services David Clazie says all previous service levels will be maintained, while at the same time, funding will be increased to completely cover the cost of public and specialized transit to prepare for expansion.
The draft budget also includes $50,000 to be given to the Trenton Memorial Hospital Foundation to help defray the costs associated with the recently formed Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee.
There is also $40,000 included for the possibility that two new doctors might sign on to the longstanding city doctor recruitment program.
Also, in the budget is money to fund a detailed study of water quality in Oak Lake totalling $100,000.