WELLINGTON NORTH – It took many hours of debate and discussion but Wellington North council has nailed down what this year’s budget increase is going to look like.
Should council ratify this at its next meeting, residents will be facing an 8.9 per cent increase after council approved collecting an additional $350,000 from taxpayers specifically to pay for a potential new Mount Forest pool — as part of an eight year financial plan that includes fundraising — on top of the rest of the operating and capital budget.
This would represent an additional $144.64 on the tax bill of an average assessed home.
Despite the long discussion at a meeting Monday, council landed on exactly what staff had recommended with no changes.
In the revised version, staff recommended adding two full-time equivalent staff, rather than three, funded 65 per cent through reserves with phase two of the Arthur Wastewater Treatment Plant deferred along with the purchase of two pickup trucks among other reduced capital projects.
This was landing the tax increase at 4.87 per cent but the Mount Forest pool had to be considered as well.
The recommended option from staff was to set the fundraising target for the project at $2.5 million and taxpayer contribution at $2.8 million. This would mean collecting an additional $350,000 per year for eight years, about a four per cent increase either on top of the levy or as a special levy.
Mayor Andy Lennox said he had been feeling discouraged after recent budget meetings, feeling like there was not a lot of leadership being shown when tough decisions had to be made to balance pressures the municipality is facing.
“There’s no magic money tree that will pay for the things we want, it’s not realistic for us to ask for more items to be added to the budget without offering what things we are prepared to trade off,” Lennox said.