SCUGOG: Scugog council has set a target of a total 3.9 per cent tax increase for the 2018 budget.
At a meeting on Monday, October 23rd, councillors saw a report from treasurer Dianne Valentim, which recommended an increase of 1.5 per cent, plus 0.4 per cent to help offset the impact of a $1.7 million debenture from the Region of Durham for the Scugog Line 6 project, as well as to lessen the impact of minimum wage increases due to Bill 148, and a special 2 per cent roads and infrastructure levy.
However, these numbers did not sit well with Ward 5 Councillor, Jennifer Back.
“If rate of inflation is 1.5 [per cent] currently, and it looks like that is what it is going to be for 2017, we have a proposed 1.5, plus 0.4, which is 1.9, which is already higher than the rate of inflation, then an additional 2 per cent makes it 3.9 and that’s more than double the rate of inflation. I know you can say, ‘no it’s the base’, but when people have to write the cheque, it’s the total and 3.9 is double the rate of inflation,” she said. “I understand all the stresses on our budget, but you have to understand the stresses on our community as well.”
She also said she had a “huge problem” with the 2 per cent road and infrastructure levy.
“To say that 33 per cent [of township budget survey respondents] said that they would be willing [to have] an increase in the road levy, that means 67 per cent said no and to me that is the majority,” Councillor Back said.
However, she added that she could support “a 2 per cent road levy that stays static.”
“That it was 2 per cent this year, at whatever that levy is. So, $115,683 is your 1 per cent, so your 2 per cent is $231,366. Year two would not be $462,000, it would be 2 per cent of the new levy, so let’s say it is $120,000 is your 1 per cent, now it would be $240,000 [for 2 per cent].”
Ward 4 Councillor, Wilma Wotten questioned if the report stated if the 2 per cent is compounded or is just for the 2018 budget.
“This is just for 2018. You would have to revisit every year to get council’s authorization for any additional levies,” Ms. Valentim said.
She also said a 1 per cent levy “doesn’t do much to [Scugog’s] roads.”
However, Ward 3 Councillor, Don Kett agreed with Councillor Back.
“It’s ridiculous to even think we can put that on [residents’] shoulders.”
Mayor Tom Rowett clarified that council was only expected to vote on the 2 per cent levy for the 2018 budget.
“We are only talking about the 2018 year, this is not a five year commitment for future councils, it’s just this 2018 year.”
Councillor Back said she didn’t want this road levy to be an “out of control beast.”
Mayor Rowett later spoke about the effects of council’s budget guideline.
“Remember that we are approximately one quarter, 26 per cent residential, about one fifth for industrial and commercial, so when we are talking about a 2 per cent increase, it’s really a half a percent effect on the tax bill for that levy. So we are not talking about a 2 per cent on an entire tax bill that somebody has,” he said.
Mayor Rowett also stressed that this is just a guideline and the budget could end up different.
After some tweaking to the motion, Councillors later agreed to set the recommended target.