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Centre Wellington 2025 draft budget proposes 6.3 per cent tax increase

It's going to be "very difficult" for residents to handle a big increase two years in a row, said one councillor of the preliminary numbers
Centre Wellington council chambers

CENTRE WELLINGTON – Councillors are concerned about the 2025 draft budget and the implications for residents if a proposed tax increase is implemented as is. 

While a new staff report recommends council maintain a 2025 tax rate increase equal to – or less than – 4.5 per cent (excluding asset and termite management allocations) during a Centre Wellington council meeting Monday, councillors insisted the next report include several options to further reduce the proposed rate.

Managing director of corporate services and treasurer Adam McNabb presented eight staff recommendations, including an approximately 0.46 per cent increase for termite management and an approximate 1.38 per cent increase for asset management. McNabb said the proposed 2025 tax increase for residents would be "just north of" 6.3 per cent. 

According to the report, a two per cent tax increase is needed in the 2025 budget to "generate the required funds to mitigate the funding gap" identified in the 2022 Asset Management Plan. 

Staff also recommended an increase of $88,500 to the total levy requirement to generate the funds needed "to ensure sufficient Termite Management program funding." 

"The original 4.5 per cent levy I'm having difficulty with," said Coun. Lisa MacDonald. "We did pass an overall budget of 7.4 per cent last year and I think this is going to be very difficult for the residents this year to (handle the increase) two years in a row."

In the report, staff proposed council counteract the proposed increase by increasing the township's fees and charges by 4.5 per cent.

Coun. Jennifer Adams and Coun. Bronwynne Wilton disagreed with increasing taxes and fees at the same time, especially considering the "blanket increase" to fees and charges last year. 

"I'm hopeful that when the recommendations come back from staff that audience of impact is looked at," said Adams. "There are other municipalities looking at (different options) as opposed to increases that are going to impact the average resident or family in our communities." 

Staff said passing a budget with a lower increase would lead to potentially reduced service levels and have "detrimental impacts to levels of service for residents as cost pressures are absorbed in approved budgets, reducing overall funding available for service provision."

The report said the township's 2025 tax-supported operating budget would have to increase by 4.1 per cent to maintain 2024 spending levels in the absence of growth. 

Capital budget costs are projected to be 7.5 per cent higher in 2025 compared to 2024.

A preliminary look at the township's 2025 capital budget will take place in mid-September, followed by a public comment period on Connect CW in October. The final budget will be approved in December. 

The full report is available here

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program. 

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About the Author: Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Isabel Buckmaster covers Wellington County under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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