MORRISBURG – After going through major cuts in the municipal budget over a three day exercise, South Dundas council agreed Tuesday night to a 1.5 per cent tax rate increase.
For a homeowner in the municipality with a property valued at $176,995, it will mean an extra $12.19 a year on their tax bill.
Treasurer Shannon Geraghty says the municipality will collect $342,000 more in taxes than it did last year.
Some of that money will address paying for the South Dundas Municipal Center, the future business park expansion and also address the cost of future township growth.
While agreeing with the 1.5 per cent, councillor Marc St. Pierre also expressed concern about having money for winter road maintenance. “Our winters are getting worse and worse. I want to make sure we’ve got enough money in there (the reserve account),” he said.
Mayor Evonne Delegarde added that $75,000 had already been added to the budget reserve for winter road maintenance.
Deputy Mayor Jim Locke was the lone dissenter saying “anything less than two per cent – the rate of inflation – is not cutting it…with two per cent increase and with the counties, you’re talking about less than a dollar a week. It’s 2015. We have to keep up with the times,” Locke said.
Locke also mentioned $60,000 has already been spent in waterfront studies and money will be needed to implement anything set out in those plans. He suggested a reserve fund for the waterfront should be set up for “future councils.”
Councillor Archie Mellan felt comfortable with the 1.5 per cent considering South Dundas recently received $868,500 from EDP Renewables to address road work.
“We can’t live on that found (EDP) money,” Deputy Mayor Locke retorted. “To me that found money goes to something that wasn’t going to be done,” referring to roads damaged by the construction of the Brinston wind farm.
Mayor Delegarde says the municipality also had to take into account the water and sewer budget hasn’t been passed yet and seniors are facing a cost of living increase (COLA) of 1.7 per cent. “Myself, I was leaning into the 1.2 to 1.5 per cent.”
The 1.5 per cent increase doesn’t include the two per cent increase on the United Counties side or an extra $23 a year for the average homeowner.
The municipal tax increase still needs to be formally approved through a bylaw at a future council meeting.