DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: Council has decided to set a preliminary budget increase goal, for staff to work towards, of 1.5 per cent, plus a 1 per cent special levy for infrastructure asset management.
The decision was made at a meeting on Monday, Oct. 3rd. According to a report from the Finance department, this increase is “in line with current inflation levels.”
Councillors decided to handle the budget process differently this year, with one change to the process, approved in September, being that Council directs staff with a target tax rate. Several factors, which could affect the budget process, were mentioned by acting treasurer Michelle Pick at the meeting, including the uncertainty from the recent format change at the Great Blue Heron casino, the cost of utilities; the council remuneration review currently underway, as well as legal costs.
According to the report, legal matters the Township is currently involved in are “placing extreme pressures on the budget, the costs of which represent the equivalent of a 3 to 4 per cent tax increase for 2017.”
Ward 5 Councillor Jennifer Back wanted to remind the other Councillors that Scugog has the highest population of seniors in Durham Region, and wanted to make sure they all can continue to be able to afford to live in the Township.
"Hydro rates, including the off peak hours are skyrocketing, with an increase on May 1st, and another this fall, and yet another in January. We have natural gas that's expect(ed) to increase this winter, and combine that with the carbon tax that will be on our energy bills and at the gas pumps, and the alarming increase in our groceries, many residents; especially those with lower incomes, young families and seniors; are really feeling the pinch," she said.
Councillor Back also stated she hopes the budget will end up with a lower tax increase rate than 1.5 per cent.
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