Mono residents face 6 per cent tax increase

January 22, 2024   ·   0 Comments


Mono town council achieved the targeted six per cent tax levy increase limit for this year’s municipal budget.

The 2024 municipal operating and capital budget’s first draft was broached in November. Council asked that $3.3 million, which was almost 40 per cent of expenditures, be cut from it in order to get to a desired 3.9 per cent inflationary increase.

Council suggested that contributions to reserve funds to cover non-essential capital projects be deferred. Staff was asked to further reduce operational costs and to find ways to generate revenue to municipal coffers.

Staff managed to trim about $2.7 million, which was about 30.5 per cent, from a subsequent draft of the spending plan. But, if accepted, that version would have yielded a 10 per cent increase to property owners’ tax bills.

Council directed staff to limit any tax increase to six per cent, which required another $358,675 to be trimmed.

“We had a few kicks at the can,” said Les Halucha, the town’s treasurer.

There are continued cost pressures on the 2024 budget.

The town’s fire budget increased by 10 per cent and the service agreement with the Orangeville Fire Department increased by 15 per cent.

Costs of property insurance have risen by 10 per cent. Sand and salt for winter road maintenance costs 25 per cent more than last year.

Similarly, measures to hamper summer dust on municipal thoroughfares has increased by seven per cent.

Town contributions to conservation authorities are 11 per cent more than last year.

The costs for municipal vehicles and equipment went up by about 10 per cent.

All that is pitted against a reduction in annual provincial grant funding for 2024. The Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund is down by 15 per cent, and the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund has decreased by 4.4 per cent this year. That means the town is out $57,500 and another $17,535, respectively, with the reductions.

There’s been a reduction of almost 224,000 in provincial grants over this budget and the last two budgets, Halucha said.

Cost reductions to achieve the six per cent ceiling include $7,000 for office administration, $25,000 for roads administration, $14,500 for street lighting, $2,000 for landfill costs, $1,000 from the recreation committee, $8,900 from parks, $197,500 from planning, and $50,000 from gravel resurfacing.

Halucha said the town isn’t planning to deny roads gravel resurfacing. Rather, a cheaper material will be applied to some sections of gravel roads that don’t require limestone resurfacing.

The budget’s final draft included a reduction of $11,000 for climate change initiatives. But council decided to transfer $10,600 that council would normally donate to community groups. That money will go toward climate change and environmental initiatives.

This year’s budget also draws money from reserve funds to pay for capital needs. The town will take $34,500 from the roads reserve, $7,600 from the Mono Centre Park fund, and $5,000 from a fund to cover reforestation efforts.

“It has been a tough budget this year,” Halucha said. “We have experienced cost increases from external sources.

“External forces on our budget are making life difficult.”

Deputy Mayor Fred Nix said the town has had to “cut and scrape” over the last two years.

“I think we’re building up problems,” Nix said.

He suggested that the council needs to seriously consider cuts to some of the services the town provides to residents in the near future.

“We just don’t have the money,” he said.

Mayor John Creelman said council needs to send a very early message to the conservation authorities.

“We can no longer afford these double-digit increases,” he said. “They’ve got to sharpen their pencils.

“I know that will get me in trouble with some people but I think that any third parties, whether they’re conservation authorities or other entities that are expecting us to do what we’ve done in the past, may be in for a bit of a surprise next year.”

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