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Staff recommend using surplus to offset Wellington County tax increase

Staff recommend phasing-out the use of a surplus over three-years to minimize the impact to future budgets
County of Wellington Administration Centre. Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday file photo

COUNTY OF WELLINGTON – Wellington County staff are recommending adjustments to 2021 budget revenues and expenses as well as using the surplus to minimize the tax levy increase. 

On Jan. 11, staff presented the 2021 budget that set the tax levy increase to 2.5 per cent, or $16 per $100,000 of assessment. 

County of Wellington council ended up directing staff to halve this increase as many felt it was an unreasonable ask on residents during a tough financial period.

This meant cutting about $1.4 million from any tax-supported aspects of the 2021 budget.

A report to the administration, finance and human resources committee has a recommendation to achieve this mainly through using $800,000 from the 2020 year-end surplus.

“We can justify it because the projected surplus is higher in 2020 because of the one-time COVID funding that has been provided by the provincial and federal governments,” reads the report by Ken DeHart, county treasurer.

The report proposes to phase-out this additional surplus over three years to not have a jarring impact on future budgets. 

The recommendation is to use $700,000 from surplus in 2022 and $500,000 in 2023. 

Staff have also made more aggressive revenue estimates from user-pay garbage bags, county housing rent and planning fees. This has been worked out to reduce tax levy by $265,000. 

The report said revenue estimates will not substantially affect future budgets as long as they’re able to meet the set revenue targets. 

There are also adjustments to expenses totalling $328,000, mainly in police services.

These include:

  • Delay the hiring of the new sergeant to lead the Community Safety Services division until July
  • Increase the provision for the OPP reconciliation estimate
  • Remove the funding of Safe Communities for 2021 only
  • Remove the Integrated Youth Services Network funding in 2021
  • Reduce library catalogue replacement

The report states that some of these will have an impact on following years because they will return to later budgets. 

The administration, finance and human resources committee will meet to discuss this report on Tuesday.