Posted on Thursday, November 23, 2017 at 11:50 a.m.
Tax rate could rise over two per cent in 2018
The City of Clarence-Rockland is in the process of preparing its 2018 budget these day and so far, the projected tax rate is 2.6 per cent.
The Clarence-Rockland municipal council held three meetings last week to discuss the draft of the 2018 budget. Discussions will resume next week, Wednesday, November 29 and Thursday, November 30. All meetings are open to the public.
Should the tax rate increase by 2.6 per cent, additional landowner contributions to the budget would be approximately $484,000. The average bill for a taxpayer whose house is valued at $290,000, would increase by $48. Added to this is an increase of $23 for the average water consumption.
Another item up for discussion is the residential and commercial rates for weekly garbage bag and bin pickup. The 2018 budget proposes a 75 per cent increase – from $571 to $1000 – for the minimum commercial bin rate and an almost 41 per cent hike for commercial bins based on tonnage – up from $35.50 to $50 a ton. Council has asked the administration to re-evaluate these “harsh” hikes and to also assess the possibility of a separate garbage rate for home-based businesses. Home-based businesses in the City are now forced to pay the large commercial rate, but do not produce as much garbage as a full-on business.
The current budget is $40.6 million, an increase of more than $1.1 million from last year. However, the City of Clarence-Rockland is facing a number of unexpected hurdles this year, such as Ontario’s Bill 148 and the costs of the spring flooding. Bill 148, which proposes a minimum wage hike to $15 and changes to minimum hours per shift for part-time employees, will have the largest impact on the tax rate for the City.
If Bill 148 is passed without further amendments, Clarence-Rockland will need to increase its budget by an additional $1.7 million, or 9.35 per cent. The costs of the flooding in May, which include costs of damages and additional salaries awarded to employees for overtime, will also have an upward impact on the City’s finances. The total cost of the spring floods amounted to $800,000, of which the City expects $652,000 from the Province under the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance (MDRA) program – leaving the City with a non-budgeted expense of $148,000.
Upon completing review of the draft next week City council will then hold one final meeting on December 4 to finalize the 2018 budget.