Quinte West is poised to approve its 2017 operating budget next Monday that could see a 2.2% tax hike.
On Monday night, council was presented with a draft 2017 budget worth $45.6 million outlining a 2.2% increase in the residential tax rate for all four wards. It works out to just below $60 a year on an average home valued at $202,000.
Mayor Jim Harrison and council also tasked Director of Corporate and Financial Services David Clazie with finding additional savings with the aim of bringing the hike down even further to 2% before next week’s meeting.
Clazie said staff have some ideas that they can work with adding they will try their best to get it down to 2%.
Council did however approve a 1.29% decrease ($46/annually) on multi-residential properties bringing the tax ratio from 2.13% to 2%.
Clazie explained how the province is reviewing the rates across the province. He said in the meantime there is a mandate for all municipalities that have a rate greater than 2%, restricting them from collecting dollars needed to balance its budget from multi-residential properties.
Farm properties will see an 18.9% increase working out to an added $118.68/year. The industrial tax ratio saw a 3.40% increase (1421.40/year) and commercial received a 0.04% reduction (-$0.53/month).
Salaries and benefits take up $17.8 million of the budget with $130,000 going toward the hiring of three mechanics for fleet maintenance; $75,000 for a junior IT support person; $45,000 for a new plans examiner; $49,000 for a community engagement officer; $37,500 for a HR assistant and $34,000 for a junior engineering technician.
A $107,000 increase in Hydro costs now have the City paying an electricity bill worth almost $1 million.
Director of Public Works and Environmental Services Chris Angelo said thanks to LED street lighting the City saved $300,000 last year. The arenas saved over 25% and City Hall lowered its consumption by 15% with LED lighting offered Bob Forder Manager of Building and Facilities.
Costs to fund external agencies have increased by $373,000 from 2016, mainly due to the $236,000 increase in the City’s shared services with the County of Hastings. The total cost of social services, social housing, EMS, child care and long-term care is $8.34 million.
Mayor Harrison said this area will see considerable increases because of much needed repairs to long-term care buildings being long over due.
The City’s policing costs are increasing by 0.8% ($67,000) over last year. Quinte West’s OPP costing increased by $50,500 over 2016 and now sits at the $8.5 million mark.
A large portion of the budget is attributed to debt servicing costs that sees an additional $950,000 mainly related to the Consolidated Public Works building and other public works road projects.
Overall, user fees will also increase by $105,000 this year. This includes $100,000 budgeted for new revenues for summer ice rentals and $45,000 for dog tag licences.
Clazie pointed out how staff is budgeting for the marina to have a $140,000 shortfall in 2017. He said the main reason for the budgeted loss is the revised revenue targets.
Forder explained 150 slips have been sold so far for next season putting them on track for the 2017.
The horseshoe also went over $425,000 in grant applications with only $300 being cut from the Trenton Rowing Clubs ask of $3,000.
Council asked that staff come back on Monday with a detailed report that is supposed to tighten up the guidelines related to who is eligible for grants.
Clazie pointed to how the City currently has a policy that requires applicants to be a not-for-profit organization that promotes well-being in the City.
Council also approved $15,000 for a new fishing derby.
Meanwhile, at its regular meeting on Monday night, council will revisit its capital budget to consider how to move forward with four projects that were recently denied government funding.
In November 2016, council approved its $23 million on capital budget. However since then, the City learned it was denied funding for the Trenton Town Hall, the Bayshore baseball diamond lights, the waterfront trail and Batawa Community Centre kitchen through Canada 150 and Ontario 150 grants programs.
In the 2017 budget, council had approved allocating $730,000 of city reserves for the four projects (half of the government funding). It was all done under the premise the City would only proceed if the grants were approved.
That meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.