By Stephen Petrick
Residents in Dysart et al could see a 7.5 per cent increase to their municipal tax bill in 2022, unless councillors make changes to a proposed budget.
The potential increase was discussed at a special meeting for the Municipality of Dysart et al council, held virtually on Dec. 10.
A second budget meeting is scheduled for Jan. 14, 2022, and a third budget meeting, if necessary, could take place on Feb. 11. These meetings will give more opportunity for councillors to scrutinize the budget and possibly find savings.
While closing out the Dec. 10 meeting, Mayor Andrea Roberts said the next budget meetings will allow council and staff “to do slightly deeper digging,” on budget items.
However, it’s common for Dysart et al residents to see yearly increases on their tax rate. A presentation by treasurer Barbara Swannell showed that the municipal tax levy has increased steadily, from slightly more than $8 million in 2018, to more than $10 million in 2021. The proposed budget would see the levy exceed $11 million in 2022.
It would mean that a residential property, assessed at $100,000, would be charged $319.92 cents in 2021, an increase of $22.48.
A business of the same value would pay $474.34, an increase of $33.33. An industrial property would pay $549.64, an increase of $38.62. The tax levy for Haliburton County and for education has yet to be determined.
Due to COVID-19, there has been no recent reassessment of property values, so properties will be charged based on their 2016 assessments, Swannell said.
There are several reasons for the increase and Swannell suggested that the pandemic played a large role. She said work connected to COVID-19 planning led to 4,131 staff hours, the equivalent of two full-time positions. Also, to cite examples of how COVID-19 affected the budget, she pointed out that revenue generated from the municipality’s arena and its medical centre parking lot were down, compared to past years.
The proposed budget increase raised the ire of Councillor John Smith, who requested that councillors be given more information about proposed staffing increases, so council can debate the merits of each position.
“Council’s going to have to look at the whole budget and make difficult decisions,” he said. “A tax increase of 7.5 per cent is not viable in my opinion.”