Draft County budget keeps average property tax hike in 2017 to 1.49 percent

November 16, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Thanks in large part to a surplus expected this year, Dufferin County Council was presented last Thursday with a draft 2017 budget that would see an increase of just 1.49 per cent on the County’s share of property tax bills..

In presenting the draft budget, Treasurer Alan Selby advised Council that the current Strategic Plan objectives are to close an infrastructure gap and develop a long-term financial Plan. To help achieve these objectives, the County will see this budget accommodate a transition to an Asset Management basis for preparing the annual Capital Budget.

After all of the budget changes, the proposed 2017 Tax Levy would rise by 3.79%, but with an updated growth estimate from new properties, this is expected to be offset by 2.3%, resulting in a net impact to the taxpayer of only 1.49% – the lowest levy increase of all the communities in Dufferin.

Also helping to offset the rise in the levy, was the fact there was a budget surplus this year expected to be $1.4 million, which could be applied to the increases in the 2017 numbers.

Putting the 2017 budget in perspective, in 2016 the levy increase before growth was $2,238,355 compared to $1,307,867 for the proposed 2017 increase. Thus, the average household in Dufferin County will see an increase of only $23.25 as compared to $40.03 in 2016. Although this was primarily due to the amount of the surplus and is unlikely to occur again, another surplus is expected in 2017 and looking ahead to 2020, the levy increase, over the forecast 2019 figures, will amount to  only .443%.

For 2017, the draft Operations budget was increased by $626,395 as opposed to a norm of $1,000,000. This was also due in part to the surplus, but also to a grant to offset  court security costs received from the Province.

However, Operations increases for 2018 and 2019 are expected to return to normal levels, in the neighbourhood of $1,000,000.

By transitioning to the Asset Management Basis for capital budgeting, the County will be put on stable ground for the future, will have flexibility to adjust to changing asset conditions and be able to prepare a clearer version of their Asset Management Plan as mandated by the Province .

Asset Management in the Capital Budget will also result in stronger Reserve levels, based on the 2015 year-end analysis, and will help the County to minimize future levy increases.

After hearing the draft budget proposal, Council was asked to adopt the Committee Budget changes as proposed  and direct staff to prepare the 2017 Budget Estimates ByLaw for the December Council meeting. It was also recommended that Council accept the draft net Budget figures for 2018, 2019 and 2020 in principal, subject to the regular budget-review period. The motion was carried, over the objections of some members.

After the budget presentation, a discussion ensued over the adoption of The Integrity Commissioner Special Report, which dealt with appointing an integrity commissioner for Dufferin. The motion for adoption was opposed by Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver and Orangeville Mayor Jeremy Williams, who felt use of a commissioner could be easily abused and used for partisan means. Mayor MacIver was also against a non-elected official being an overseer of the elected councillors. Despite their objections Council voted to carry the motion.

Before Council adjourned, Warden Laura Ryan thanked the councillors and staff for electing  her Warden for the current year, to which Council responded with a standing ovation. Election of a successor will take place at the Dec.

Earlier, Council heard two presentations from local groups seeking council’s support.

The first, by Shirley Boxem for DC Moves,  updated council on that organization’s activities and asked council for an additional, $30,000 in funding to continue their initiatives.

The second, from the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle, reported on their work with indigenous residents of the county and the cultural challenges faced by them in modern  Dufferin society. Several initiatives and ongoing programs were discussed by the three speakers involved.


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