DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: An increase of 5.5 per cent on the municipal portion of Uxbridge residents’ property taxes is on the way after councillors gave their approval to the 2014 municipal budget at their meeting on the morning of Monday, Jan. 20.
According to Finance Committee Chair and Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy, the increase represents a rise of approximately $58.80 a year on a home in Uxbridge assessed at $400,000.
The tax increase covers an additional 4.5 per cent in the operating/capital budget as well as a one per cent increase for the township’s recently-created Asset Preservation Reserve, which is aimed at maintaining township infrastructure.
Councillor Molloy noted that council’s focus in crafting this year’s budget was to maintain the township’s existing level of service and programs, while minimizing tax increases and also planning for the future needs to the municipality.
"We chose a responsible path for the future of our community by preparing for many of the long-term financial requirements of Uxbridge Township," Councillor Molloy said in a press release. "The budget looks to the future to maintain our township infrastructure by setting aside $96,000 (approximately one per cent) in order to continue to keep up to our future public works requirements. We have also incorporated $200,000 into a reserve to ensure that our Fire Department will continue to have the necessary apparatus needed to serve our residents well into the future."
Crafting the township’s 2014 budget was not without significant challenges for councillors, most notably the further reduction of funding provided from the province as part of the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF). This year, Uxbridge saw its OMPF funding cut by 15 per cent ($162,700), last year the township’s OMPF funding was cut by 10 per cent ($119,900). Councillors anticipate this trend to continue in the foreseeable future.
As well, a major infrastructure project - replacement of a culvert on Davis Dr. - was shelved after an unsuccessful grant application to the province.
According to councillors, the denial was due mostly to assessment values and the average incomes of Uxbridge residents, implying that residents of Uxbridge Township can afford to pay more.
The township continues to struggle with slow growth due to limited sewage capacity as well as provincial Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine policies. In 2013, assessment growth within Uxbridge Township was a paltry 0.6 per cent.
Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet noted the difficulties imposed by the province on the budget process, and opined that the municipality look to Durham Region for future assistance with expanding its tax revenue.
"We got hit over the head with the reduction in funding from the province, which was a wake-up call," said Councillor Highet. "We can’t keep going back to burden residential taxpayers, because it’s not sustainable. Maybe we should be asking the Region for more help with our commercial and industrial tax bases."
Councillors are expected to give their final approval to the 2014 municipal budget at their next meeting, at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27.
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