SCUGOG: After months of deliberations, council approved the 2016 Operating and Capital budget on Monday, Feb. 29.
The budget includes a municipal levy increase of 1.2 per cent, which includes the annually mandated 1 per cent special levy for roads and roads infrastructure. Out of the 1.2 per cent, only about 0.21 per cent of that will go towards the township, with the remainder going towards the Region.
This represents about a $5 increase to municipal taxes for the average property owner in Scugog, with a value assessment on their home of $360,200.
According to a staff report, combined with the Region of Durham, and assuming that there is no increase in the Durham District School Board Budget, Scugog residents can expect an increase to their combined tax bill of about $43. Region of Durham taxes increased this year by about $38.
Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew decided to support the proposed budget, despite having some concerns about the township’s reserves.
“The reserves are very low. Having said that I have supported withdrawals from the municipal projects reserve as they are being used for the intended purposes from past budgets and I support many of the one time drawdowns from the rate stabilization fund,” she said. “It is important to know that these reserves are there for emergencies. We did not have the funds last year to replace the trees that were destroyed in the August weather event.”
According to Treasurer Trena DeBruijn, at year end in 2015 the reserves were at approximately $10 million, and the township projects by year end in 2016 that the reserves will be at approximately $7.3 million.
Mayor Tom Rowett stated that he is “happy with where (council) is going” with the reserves, adding that council is still looking into setting a floor for any draws from the reserves.
Ward 2 Councillor Janna Guido lauded all involved in the budget for their efforts.
“I would like to thank our Director of Finance for an outstanding job once again, and council members Councillor Drew and Mayor Rowett and all involved for the outstanding work on the budget.”