UXBRIDGE: After several weeks of number crunching, Councillors have put the finishing touches on this year’s municipal budget, which is slated to be approved and adopted next week.
It is estimated by township staff that the total property taxes for a home in the municipality assessed at $450,000 will see an overall property tax increase of $116 or 2.2 per cent this year.
The municipal budget for 2016 consists of $14.9 million in operating expenditures, and $9.1 million of capital expenditures, with the township portion of the tax bill expected to climb 3.7 per cent, plus an additional .7 per cent for the township’s Asset Preservation Reserve for infrastructure maintenance as well as an additional .5 per cent reserve for the impending replacement of the Brock St. culvert.
According to township staff, for every dollar in residential property taxes collected by Uxbridge Township in 2015, approximately 17 cents went towards education, 23 cents stayed in Uxbridge, while 60 cents went to the Region of Durham.
“The focus of the 2016 budget was to maintain existing service and program levels and minimize tax increases,” explained Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy, who serves as Deputy Mayor as well as Chair of the Finance and Emergency Service Committee. “Our township, with limited growth and continued provincial reductions in funding, has its financial constraints.”
Specifically, Councillor Molloy noted that the Township has been impacted by cuts to the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, which was cut by 15 per cent this year, as well as soaring utility costs. Treasurer Donna Condon explained to The Standard that the municipality has budgeted for a 10 per cent jump in the cost of hydro this year, in addition to the eight per cent hike last year. As well, water and sewer rates will be rising by approximately five per cent.
The end of more than a month of budget discussions left Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor lamenting a lack of input from the public.
“It is discouraging that every single meeting was open to the public, and only two people attended,” commented Mayor O’Connor. “It would’ve been nice to see some of the people writing letters to the editor about how they are on a pension with a half-a-million dollar house and can’t afford to live in Uxbridge come out to our meetings.”
The budget contains funding for a number of projects in the municipality including the new Fire Hall, new Animal Control shelter and the Brock St. culvert project. Although the culvert project is not slated to begin until 2018, Councillor Molloy noted that the township is looking to use the opportunity to potentially revamp its downtown core.
“We’re considering a lot of options for downtown. It’s not just going to be a culvert. This might be the only time we dig it up in 100 years, so we’d like to make sure we have a plan in place to make sure we end up with something great,” added Councillor Molloy.
As well, several parks projects highlight this year’s budget including accessibility upgrades to Elgin Park, an off-leash dog park near the Uxbridge Historical Centre and a playground in the Campbell Dr./Cemetery Rd. area.