Clarence-Rockland City Hall
Clarence-Rockland City Hall

Clarence-Rockland’s new budget almost ready

Gregg Chamberlain
EAP
The final version of the 2020 budget for the City of Clarence-Rockland is almost ready, and it will include at least a three per cent increase in overall taxes.

Council sat through a detailed presentation of the revised budget document during their October 28 committee of the whole session. Administration and department staff explained the process of changes to the document since the original budget proposal was presented in August.

The first draft of the budget indicated that a six per cent increase in the amount of property taxes collected would be needed to meet all the operational and capital works goals for the municipality during the next year. Council directed staff to bring the tax increase for the 2020 budget down to three per cent.

The first draft of the budget indicated that a six per cent increase in the amount of property taxes collected would be needed to meet all the operational and capital works goals for the municipality during the next year. Council directed staff to bring the tax increase for the 2020 budget down to three per cent.

What may now become the final budget for 2020, as presented at the end of October, calls for a 3.03 per cent increase in property taxes for the municipal levy portion of the city’s revenue for next year. Chief Administrator Helen Collier noted that council members seemed satisfied with staff efforts to cut costs to meet council’s demand for a reduction of the necessary tax increase for the budget.

Budget highlights

The proposed 2020 budget for Clarence-Rockland totals $41,592,298. The municipal levy of property taxes for city revenue for next year will be $21,606,298, which is a 3.03 per cent increase from the 2019 property tax levy.

For the average taxpayer in the Clarence-Rockland area, with a home valued at $293,500, the 3.03 per cent increase in the municipal levy portion of the budget will mean an increase of about $59 in property taxes for their house and land. This results from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation’s (MPAC) evaluation of the worth of their property. Residents with higher or lower MPAC evaluations may pay more or less in their property taxes compared to the average homeowner.

The remaining $19,986,036 worth of municipal revenue comes from senior government confirmed grants like the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grant, user fees, development charges, interest from accounts, and other sources. Water and sewer user fees are also part of the $19.9 million other sources revenue figure but that money is dedicated to maintenance and upgrades of the municipal water and sewage disposal systems and is not included as part of either the general operations or capital works funds. The second draft of the 2020 budget proposes a 2.69 per cent increase in utility services fees but no increase in garbage collection fees.

Council will now do final reviews of all sections of the draft budget during special evening discussion sessions November 5 to 7 and November 12 and 13. The goal is to have the final budget document ready for approval at the November 18 council session.

Small surplus maybe from 2019 C-R budget

There may be a small surplus from the Clarence-Rockland 2019 municipal budget if no surprise expenses occur before the end of this year.

City administration presented council with the November financial summary report during the October 28 committee of the whole session. The regular financial summaries update council members on expenses and project results related to the current municipal budget.

The November report indicated that the city budget could finish with a small surplus, if there are no unexpected expenses before the end of the year. The potential surplus at present would amount to more than $470,000.

A variety of factors are contributing to this potential surplus. One is an unexpected provincial grant funding received earlier in the year. The funding relates to Clarence-Rockland’s extra expenses now for policing, and other public safety measures related to the legalization of marijuana in Canada. Other factors, including fewer expenses incurred on some municipal projects and programs, are all contributing to the potential surplus.

Council has received the financial update report for now and will wait for administration to provide final confirmation of any actual budget surplus in January, when the final year-end report on the 2019 budget and expenses summary report is due.