I guess if you start high, there’s only one way to go – down – and from an optics perspective, it looks more palatable. After starting at a 16% tax levy increase, Finance staff whittled it down to 7.3%. Then, (a few) aldermen took their pencils out and whittled just a wee bit more to get it down to 6% … because it sounds better. In comparison, 7 other local municipalities have established levy increases ranging from 2.08% to 6.95%.
One of the big investments and costs contributing to the levy increase is a long-range plan to renew and invest in the town’s IT infrastructure, technology and staffing. It’s going to hit us hard this year, and for the next few years. Much of the whittling involved deferring staffing, shuffling anticipated projects to future years, and using reserves for pressing needs now with the promise of topping the reserves back up when anticipated incoming funds are received (ie. Concord place MTO land sale valued at between $250-300K).
Nothing on the incoming funds from the 2010 hydro dividend or the Niagara Region Broadband sale is in the picture for this year as there are final details to be worked out. A lot of discussion revolved around “robbing Peter to pay Paul” and the potential future burden on taxpayers for putting off for tomorrow what should be done today
Some controversy on the Deputy Director of Planning position as the final Development Charges Study is not in yet, which would determine if it can be supported, and the perception is out there that it’s already firmly in the cards (and org chart).
End result – a 6% levy increase. Just a very rough idea of what this means as a tax impact, a home with a 2017 assessed value of $415,000 (2016 – $390,404.52) might see an increase of close to $200 in taxes this year (**note, the presentation to Council included a slide with estimates based on a 7.31% increase, and without the Sanitary Sewer levy – feel free to ask your alderman for clarification or a copy).
Watch for the report to come from the town for the authoritative figures and breakdown.
Another helpful tool is the Region of Niagara’s tax calculation widget: https://www.niagararegion.ca/…/bud…/prop-tax-calculator.aspx