County Holds the Line on Tax Increase

County taxes for 2020 are a bigger problem than usual.  The Province has reduced the amount of money they plan to transfer to Municipalities and the County estimates that they will need to find an extra $1.4M in revenue because of that.  That would mean an additional 2.5% increase in the levy. Inflation for capital projects is best measured by the Non-residential Construction Price Index which is currently running at more than 5% – that is, higher than CPI (1.9% excluding gas).  So because of inflation, the total operating and capital budget would require a 2.8% increase in the levy. However, staff plan to find efficiencies of 1% so the planned net increase in the total budget (because of inflation) is 1.8%.  Unfortunately much of the County’s infrastructure (roads, bridges and social housing) is nearing the end of its useful life so a levy to catch up on this is another 0.8% for a total increase of 2.6%. Even with that, staff are concerned that there is not enough money to pay for necessary infrastructure work. Add in the 2.5% required to maintain the same level of service after Provincial cuts and the increase that staff wants comes to 5.1%.

Impact of Provincial Cuts

A report by staff listed the estimated cost of “proposed Provincial policy changes to date” as follows:

Item Amount
Health Unit Levy (required to maintain same level of service) $349,572
Child Care Funding $401,931
Ontario Works and Community Homelessness Prevention $400,186
Small Business Advisory Centre Funding $89,500
Land Ambulance Funding $180,634
Estimated Total Impact $1,421,823
 2020 levy increase required to offset 2.5%

Note: preliminary estimates of proposed changes subject to change

 

On 19 June at the County Council meeting, when presented with this request for an increase in the levy of 5.1%, Council instructed staff to target a three per cent levy increase, and return with recommendations on how to close the two per cent gap.

Glenn Dees and Jennifer Moore
Glenn Dees and Jennifer Moore

The responsibility for this will end up with Financial Director Glenn Dees and CAO Jennifer Moore – photo at right is from their presentation to Cobourg Council in March this year.

Obviously, either some services will be cut back or some Capital projects deferred.

So you’d think that the paying public would be consulted on what the cuts might be.  But because of their experience last year and the year before, in 2018 County Council voted to discontinue open houses where staff presented the budget to the public and only have online surveys. That’s because, in 2017 eleven citizens showed up for the open house and only two surveys were completed; then in 2018 five citizens showed up and there was only one response to the survey.  No new survey has yet been made available or scheduled but there is time yet.  There is a long process now required with Councillors getting a first look at the proposed budget late November with a presentation on December 18.

Note that there is also additional money coming from growth in the tax base – that is, more properties being taxed – but that is taken into account.  Since taxpayers are mostly interested in what they actually pay, the discussion at council was focused on the levy – that is, the amount of the tax bill increase (assuming your MPAC valuation goes up the same as the average for the County).

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Walter Luedtke

The Credit Rating Agency Moody’s found that the cuts made to Ontario public health agencies, paramedic services, and child care and early years programs, along with the cancellation of the increase in the share of the gas tax, will leave municipalities more than $2-billion “worse off” over the next 10 years.
“While the changes benefit Ontario’s credit profile, they are credit negative for the province’s municipal governments.”
This is deja-vu as Mike Harris took the same approach of balancing the books on the backs of the municipalities, the poor and the sick.
Of course, it was all former Finance Minister Vic Fedeli’s fault who took a bullet for the team and is now directing traffic.
‘Dubious’ asked an interesting question below about eliminating County programs.
Wonder whether he was one of the 5 citizens who showed up at the County Budget Open House.
That would have been the time to ask that question.
In the meantime, phone David Piccini to raise your concerns.

Dubious

Whether the money comes from the province or the municipality there is only one taxpayer. Lobbying Piccini to provide funding is not the solution. We cannot afford to continue as we have. We have to review our expenditures and reduce/eliminate those which are not essential..

cornbread

Time to “Tighten the Belt” and sort out the “Nice To” versus the “Need To”. Our town just replaced all the above the ice lights on both rinks at the CCC…probable cost including the labour would be in the area of $100,000…the big question is WHY did we put such poor quality lights above the rinks in the first place?? Who made that decision?? Any connection to the “Sylvania Fiasco” and Holdco or whoever?? I would love to see the dollars spent on the Carlisle Street Park over the past 10 years…it is seldom used.

Frenchy

This is deja-vu as Mike Harris took the same approach of balancing the books on the backs of the municipalities, the poor and the sick.

And who do you think taught Mike “The Knife” that trick? Your very own (then) Federal Liberal Finance Minister Paul Martin.
That is the same approach he and JC used when they conned us into believing they balanced the federal books. It was all done by downloading onto the provinces. No political party or level of government can be blamed for this sort of behavior over another.

sandpiper

What increases in the Cost of Living ?
Ever have a conversation with you acting M.P. or MPP
about the real cost of living and what they want us to believe ..8 %
Seniors have been trying to get a real cost of LIving increase in their CPP & OAS
for a decade now and thats $$ we paid in to the sys.

Dubious

What consideration was given to eliminating or even merely reducing the expenditures for which funding from the province was cut ? Do we need a Small Business Advisory Centre? Why?