UXBRIDGE: 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 $400,000 will see an overall property tax increase of $82 or 1.7 per cent this year.
Uxbridge’s 2015 budget consists of $14.5 million in operating expenditures, and $8.7 million of capital expenditures, with the township portion of the tax bill expected to climb 3.9 per cent, plus an additional one per cent for the township’s Asset Preservation Reserve.
The township portion of the tax bill will climb approximately $53 per household, with local residents benefitting from uploading and funding of select programs at the Regional level, despite some funding cuts at the municipal level.
According to township staff, for every dollar in residential property taxes collected by Uxbridge Township in 2014, 17 cents went towards education, 23 cents stayed in Uxbridge, while 60 cents went to the Region of Durham.
“The focus of the 2015 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. “Since 2011, our Township has experienced many financial pressures; cuts in provincial funding, lack of growth and high assessment values have been the main challenges that Council and residents have had to endure. I wish we could keep the tax increase at zero, but that’s just not possible in today’s world.”
Specifically, Councillor Molloy noted that the Township has been impacted by cuts to the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, which was cut by 20 per cent this year, falling by $184,400. Over the past three years, these payments by the province have dropped by a total of $466,200.
As well, the municipality has seen only slight development and growth due to limited sewage capacity, in addition to limitations placed on the township through provincial Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine policies.
The township has also been unsuccessful in its last three applications to obtain infrastructure grants from the upper levels of government.
While Councillor Molloy added that it can be frustrating for the township to be turned down for funding in spite of responsible financial planning - the township has not taken on a debenture since Uxpool was constructed more than 40 years ago, and has been debt free for many years - he noted that the municipality will continue working to obtain funding.
“It can be frustrating when we’re turned down largely because of high assessment values and high average incomes, but we are planning to meet with delegates from the provincial government at the upcoming Good Roads Convention to keep the lines of dialogue open. We’re not giving up on this money. We think we deserve our share, and we’re not looking for a hand-out, just our fair share.”
Highlighting this year’s capital budget is the municipality’s new Fire Hall, which is slated to be built on Brock St., just east of Conc. 6.
“I believe that we will be able to get shovels in the ground later this year on the new Fire Hall,” stated Councillor Molloy. “It went slow for the first year-and-a-half, but we’re really moving now. Site alterations should begin in the fall, with construction to follow next year.”
The fate of the current Fire Hall on Bascom St. is yet to be decided, but should the municipality decide to sell the building - which was recently appraised for $600,000 - funds from the sale will go towards the expected $3.8 million cost of the new Fire Hall.
Councillor Molloy also noted that the township remains committed to bringing more businesses to Uxbridge while facing fierce competition from other municipalities.
“Is it the township’s responsibility to rent out every building along Brock St.?” added Councillor Molloy. “We bend over backward to try and bring business to Uxbridge.”