Tax rates reduced
LAMBTON SHORES — It took only one meeting on Jan. 16 for council to approve this year’s operating and capital works budgets, resulting in a tentative tax rate that is 2.23 per cent lower than the 2017 rate for local municipal funding.
An operating budget that forecasts expenditures of just over $25.5 million (about $809,500 higher than last year) will extract from property owners a taxation levy of about $11,571,680.00, an increase of about 2.5 per cent from 2017. Overall 2018 taxable assessment for Lambton Shores has increased by a total of 6.58 per cent, creating the opportunity for the tax rate reduction.
An approved expenditure of $7,012,750 on capital works projects will be funded entirely from existing reserve funds and some grants, sparing taxpayers any of that burden. Last year’s capital budget was set at $8,531,061.00.
Not a single seat in the public gallery was occupied by ratepayers.
Treasurer Janet Ferguson presented an operating budget that would have decreased the tax rate by 2.48 per cent but council voted for additional spending of $14,000 to Forest Lambton Museum to support tourist information services and $15,000 for a phragmites invasive species eradication group. The terms ‘tentative’ and ‘approximate’ apply to the updated tax rate because the $15,000 funding is conditional on whether the phragmites fighters receive additional grant money for their efforts on private properties.
Treasurer Ferguson reminded council that there are two unknowns for the overall three-prong 2018 tax rates. County council has not yet set the Lambton rate nor has the Province of Ontario announced its rate for support of schools which she expects to receive soon.
Ferguson also noted that the tax rate reduction will be partially offset on the upside by the new assessed values of properties as calculated by the province’s Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). She provided examples of the impact of MPAC’s value updates on residential properties based on her originally drafted tax rate reduction. An average property assessed last year at $257,985 would now be valued at $269,594.33 causing the local municipality’s share of the tax bill to rise from $1,316.87 to $1,342.03, a hike of $25.16 or 1.91 per cent. That will increase slightly when a new rate is confirmed.
In the unlikely event that a residential property’s $257,985 assessed value holds over to this year, the local municipal tax bill would fall by $32.63, again based on the originally drafted tax rate.
The biggest component of the operating budget is transportation services $5,392,038 (46 per cent) followed by policing $2,502,952 (21.63 per cent), fire services $1,134,514 (9.80 per cent) and arenas $928,829 (8.03 per cent).
Among the main elements of this year’s capital works budget are $3,631,943 for the community services department, $1,292,973 for water, $1,008,941 for wastewater and $663,500 for fire protection which includes $600,000 for a new fire pumper truck. $85,000 is allocated for purchase of IT (information technology) equipment.
“The server infrastructure is aging and requires updating and funds have been allocated to accommodate replacing all of them,” the treasurer reported.