SD&G budget starts with 2.6% decrease

The morning sun shines on the United Counties of Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry building on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. The county is proposing an overall tax decrease of 2.6 per cent in its draft budget. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Update Friday 2 p.m.: Budget passes with 1.8 per cent increase. Nearly $1 million in road resurfacing added to budget.

SD&G – The 2018 budget for the United Counties of Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry is proposing an overall tax rate decrease of 2.6 per cent.

County council started delving through the numbers this morning (Monday) at the county building on Pitt Street.

CFO Vanessa Metcalfe told council the county stands to collect nearly $1 million more in taxes next year for a total of $45.3 million.

But due to a healthy and “significant” assessment base (value of properties in SD&G) everyone would be paying fewer dollars overall.

For the average home, that would be a decrease of $7.70 or 0.6 per cent.

The decrease may be short lived through. In years past, council typically starts with a decrease and then added various roads projects into its budget to bring the budget up to an increase that’s at or below inflation.

Some of the financial constraints that continue to weigh on the county are a reduction in the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), which is down another 15 per cent for 2018.

“They’re (the province) number one target is to eliminate the transitional funding,” CFO Metcalfe said. She said the province is trying to focus the dollars toward rural and “assessment weak” municipalities.

The county is also paying for Bill 148 – the minimum wage bill – which has added around $23,000 per department to the budget as well as a $36,500 cost for the overall county operations.