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Wellington County starts tax talks at 3.8 per cent increase

One county councillor said they would like to see the initial projected increase cut almost in half by the time the tax rate is finalized
County councillor and Guelph/Eramosa mayor Chris White.

WELLINGTON COUNTY — The County of Wellington launched 2023 budget discussions on Thursday, starting out at a 3.8 per cent increase.

“At this point, we’re looking at a 3.8 tax change. But that is subject to change, subject to what goes through the various committees,” said county councillor and administration, finance and human resources committee chair Chris White.

Councillor Mary Lloyd suggesd an increase of two per cent.

“Is it timely at this point for us as councillors to say what we would hope that the overall increase would be, and then we work to that goal. Rather than continuing work at the 3.8 target, and then later trying to figure all that out,” Lloyd said.

They put forward a drastically reduced target for upcoming tax changes.

“I would like to work to a two per cent increase. I know that’s almost cutting it in half,” Lloyd said.

The final county rate is then blended with municipal rates.

Councillor Diane Ballantyne reminded everyone that the county has been successful in keeping taxes low in the recent past.

“We’ve provided the lowest back-to-back tax increases in a generation over the last couple of years, partly because of the trying times. But that has led to our ability to be able to borrow funds a lower amount,” Ballantyne said.

She also mentioned that it costs money to provide residents with the services they need.

“But I think it’s important for us to realize or remember or remind ourselves that we’re here to provide services for our residents and that requires that we spend money,” Ballantyne said.

Councillor Jeff Duncan raised the possibility of taking money from the tax stabilization reserve.

“As a suggestion, one of the things I’d be curious about is using the tax stabilization reserve modestly,” Duncan said.

White suggested another target, keeping taxes below inflation.

“My goal would always be as much as possible, when the bill comes to the door, it’s at or below inflation,” White said.

“Now, in this given inflation environment that’s a little bit high. So that maybe not the norm but in a normal environment getting that thing around inflation is a reasonable target,” White said.

Jesse Gault is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.