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Centre Wellington facing a 2.4 per cent tax hike and $64.9 million overall budget in 2022

Initial 2022 budget up $8.5 million over 2021
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File photo

CENTRE WELLINGTON – Council began budget deliberations that include a preliminary 2.4 per cent property tax increase for 2022 at its operating and capital budget meeting on Tuesday

The overall budget for 2022, which includes tax supported operating budget, water supported operating budget, wastewater supported operating budgets and combined capital budget, is $64.9 million. Last year, it was $56.4 million. 

At Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting, Dan Wilson, managing director of corporate services and township treasurer, and Mark Bradey, manager of finance and deputy treasurer, presented the operating and capital draft budget for 2022 to council. 

The draft budget proposes a 2.4 per cent property tax increase, which means there will be an approximate increase of $27 on the annual tax bill for the average residential property assessed at $381,095.

“User fees and charges for 2022 are also proposed to increase by 2.4 per cent,” said Wilson during his presentation. 

Councillors were skeptical with the growth assessment management and the tax increase. 

Coun. Stephen Kitras wondered what the actual tax increase is on a resident’s bill from the budget and what the impact of the assessment growth management is on the budget and increase. 

Wilson explained that the assessment growth is additional tax dollars included in the budget, however, it does not affect the existing residents as it’s based on the new properties being built in the township; the 3.2 per cent that’s coming from the assessment growth does not constitutes additional tax increase but the percentage of new taxpayers coming to the township. 

At the meeting, councillors deliberated the two budgets: operating and capital. 

Operating Budget:

Total operating budget of $44.4 million which is funded from tax supported sources of $31 million and wastewater and water supported which is $13.4 million. 

Insurance premiums for the township’s facilities and fleet are increasing $98,500 in 2022.  

The gross expenditure budget for the administration department is $1.2 million; for corporate services, the combined budget is $3.2 million; infrastructure services has a combined budget of $5.5 million; planning and development services has $2.1 million; and other services such as the Elora BIA and Fergus BIA has a combined budget of $10.5 million.

In regards to the fire department's operating budget, Coun. Neil Dunsmore asked Fire Chief Tom Mulvey how many firefighters the chief is looking to hire over the next 10 years as Centre Wellington grows its population. 

“This year, we’re hiring six firefighters which will get us back to 66 firefighters in total. By 2027, we need around 90 firefighters. We have to hire that many people before 2027. Right now, the problem is where the third station will be built, hire new people and train them before the station opens,” said Mulvey.  

“Our budget for 2022 is $1.649 million. It’s a 0.6 per cent increase from last year’s.”                  

Capital: 

Total capital budget of $20.5 million which is funded from tax supported sources of $15.9 million and water and wastewater sources of $4.6 million. 

The use of development charges (DC) to fund 2022 capital projects totals $2,134,600, and relate to projects associated with fire, public works, roads, parks and recreation, water, wastewater, and corporate. 

Finance staff have recommended that $805,720 in debt be incurred in 2022 to fund the new operations facility which is planned for final design and construction beginning in 2022 with completion in 2024.

The largest project is a $4.2 million replacement of the First Line bridge followed by full reconstruction of St. George Street East at $2.2 million.

In regards to the termite management program, it is set to have a budget of $140,000 for 2022. 

Coun. Kirk McElwain did not approve of the proposed budget for the termite management as he noted that in previous council meetings, council has discussed a budget of $60,000 per year for termite management, but it has since gone down to $40,000 per year. 

“This is not a decrease to the budget but an increase; it’s an additional funding to what’s already on the 10-year capital forecast, which was $60,000 a year, and this is suggesting a $80,000 on top of that for 2022,” explained Wilson. 

Budget deliberation meetings will continue on Dec. 2 and Dec. 7, and the budget will be finalised on Dec. 20.