Highlands East approves 2022 budget

Residents will see a 1.48 increase in taxes
By Chris Drost

Highlands East Council has officially approved a municipal tax increase of 1.48 per cent for 2022. To local taxpayers, it means an increase of $7.50 per $100,000 of tax assessment. So, a property assessed at $500,000 would see an increase of $37.50 for the year.
CAO/treasurer, Shannon Hunter reviewed a list of highlights from the budget, noting that there was a negotiated salary increase of 1.75 per cent across the board, a 4.6 per cent increase in group benefits and an increase of 8.8 per cent for general insurance.
“There have been lots of increases, but only a 1.48 per cent increase at the bottom line. It is awesome holding the increase to 1.48 per cent,” Councillor Cameron McKenzie said. He also asked if the drop in policing costs by 2.19 percent, $1,183,699 in expenses, will impact service levels. Hunter confirmed it would not.

“It is good MPAC is holding off on increasing market values,” Deputy Mayor Cec Ryall said. He expressed concern that his home has doubled in value and most other people would be in the same situation. “Is there any indication how this will be handled,” he asked Hunter. “I think everyone is going to face this over time,” she said. There has been no announcement from MPAC yet but she explained that the tax rate is based on a weighted assessment. Taxes required are based on the needs of the municipality. So, if the assessed values of property increase, the tax rate may decrease.
Graphics that were part of the budget highlights package, showed that the net taxation requirement for the municipality for 2022 is $6,749,850. The breakdown among departments revealed that roads at 42.67 per cent, represents the largest chunk of the budget. Policing comes in second at 17.39 per cent, general government next at 14.47 per cent with parks and recreation and facilities at 13.03 per cent and fire following at 12.49 per cent, and waste at 10.36 per cent.

One notable change is a four per cent user fee increase for water/wastewater in 2022, which is according to the financial plan. Additional Canada Community Building Funds received in 2021, amounting to $75,000, will be utilized for new pumps for a backup pumping station, electrical upgrades flow meter, controls etc.
The overall dollar increase in the 2022 budget over the 2021 budget is $146,232.
The residential property rate comparison shows that on a property assessed at $100,000, the total taxes in 2022 would be $515.00, compared to $507.50 in 2021.
Mayor Dave Burton expressed gratitude to Hunter and all the department heads and other staff for all their hard work in putting together a workable budget.