Haldimand County Council reviewed the 2018 Tax-Supported Operating Budget, March 7. The draft budget required a 1.25% residential tax increase over 2017, below Council’s target tax rate increase of 1.5%. For Haldimand County residents, this equates to an additional $39 per year, or $3.26 per month on a property with an assessed value of $256,400.
The Province of Ontario recently approved legislation that had a major impact on the County’s 2018 Operating Budget. Bill 148 (Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act) and Bill 127 (Stronger Healthier Ontario Act) will drive up the County’s employment costs.
These two provincially- mandated drivers signify a net levy increase of approximately $670,000, or 1.1% of the total levy impact. Despite these and other significant financial pressures, staff were able to produce a sustainable and flexible budget, while minimizing the tax rate impact.
“The 2018 budget provides great flexibility to deal with potential expenditures related to residential growth & the need for additional services associated with that growth,” noted Hewitt.
“Through continued analysis of the County’s assessment base and a strategic, long- range financial planning approach, the County is well-positioned to deliver affordable, exemplary services now and into the future.”
At the end of the budget meeting, Mayor Hewitt introduced a motion that increases the 2018 tax levy by an additional 0.25% in order to create a “Growing Communities Reserve Fund”. This new reserve fund is intended to be a source of financing for the implementation and operation of large municipal projects and services, such as pools, park improvements, community initiatives and recreational centres.
“This reserve fund will be used by Council in an effort to meet the needs of the County, in keeping with promoting healthy, vibrant and strong communities,” Hewitt said.
The motion was deferred to the March 27th Council in Committee meeting for further discussion and debate.
Key highlights of the 2018 operating budget:
Increased spending to enhance the County’s response to winter driving conditions
More money to improve the maintenance of County roads, waterfront parks and downtown areas
Additional funding to support Council’s approved level of capital spending for 2018, such as granular road conversion, facility improvements, trails and community amenities
Additional staffing for planning, building, engineering, Grandview Lodge and administrative support to improve services and accommodate development activities
Beautification grants to community groups that foster well-being and vibrancy
Significant savings in the County’s share of mandated costs for policing, social services and conservation authorities
10 year commitment to spend $150,000 per year on community improvement initiatives that benefit the commercial sector
The 2018 Tax-Supported Operating Budget is expected to be ratified at the Tuesday, April 3rd Council meeting. Haldimand County budget documents are available for public review on the County’s website