By Mike Baker
Following several months of discussion, Dysart et al council officially approved its 2021 budget on Friday morning [Feb. 12].
In what was a third draft of the document, councillors settled on implementing a 1.16 per cent tax levy increase to the municipal portion of homeowners’ 2021 property tax bill. According to Barbara Swannell, the township’s treasurer, that will equate to an additional $3.41 per $100,000 of assessment for residential property owners.
While the same levy increase will be applied to commercial and industrial units, the dollar increase will be a little higher. Taxes on industrial properties will go up $5.86 per $100,000 of assessment in 2021, while commercial properties will see an increase of $5.06 per $100,000 of assessment.
According to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation [MPAC], the organization tasked with carrying out property assessments across Ontario, the typical residential property in Dysart was assessed at approximately $193,000 in 2016. Using these totals, the typical ratepayer will see an increase of $6.58 on the municipal portion of their 2021 tax bill.
Taking a look at the final document, Dysart is slated to spend just under $17.2 million over the next year.
Much of the debate on Friday centred around how much money Dysart would place into its reserves. Carrying a surplus of $545,660 from last year’s budget, township staff recommended council allot $300,000 towards reserve funds to help cover unexpected costs with washouts, brushing, snowplowing and sanding/salting.
Ward 4 Coun. John Smith didn’t like that idea, instead suggesting the municipality take the bulk of those funds, around $225,000 and redistribute them to another reserve fund with the idea the money will be used to fund various road projects in 2021. Rob Camelon, Dysart’s director of public works, noted the municipality had an extensive backlog in its ditching and brushing programs that would require attention soon.
It was Smith’s hope that the additional $225,000 would help to complete prep work on roads slated for paving over the next few years.
Following the budget’s unanimous passing, mayor Andrea Roberts commended staff and council for a job well done in managing to tackle several key issues this year, while keeping tax increases to a minimum.
“I feel we’re really, really making progress here in Dysart. I am very proud of this budget today,” Roberts said. “This is the most important thing that we do… and staff, and council, have done a good job balancing priorities [this year].”