WELLINGTON COUNTY – Wellington County residents are facing the highest tax increase seen in years on the county portion of property taxes based on the County of Wellington’s preliminary 10-year plan.
The County of Wellington is projecting a 5.3 per cent tax increase for 2024, a 4.2 per cent increase in 2025 and a 3.6 per cent increase in 2026. County taxes are one of three parts on a property tax bill with the other two portions being from the lower-tier municipality and education.
In 2023 the County tax increase was 3.8 per cent, two per cent in 2022 and 1.2 per cent in 2021.
County tax rates have increased by an average of 2.4 per cent annually for 14 years between 2009 and 2022, says a report by county treasurer Ken DeHart.
“After many years of low tax rate increases and a stable economy with low inflation … the post-pandemic recovery has brought upon many new economic challenges,” DeHart writes.
These challenges DeHart notes include geo-political tensions, global supply chain disruptions, an aging population, record levels of immigration, skilled labour shortage and a housing supply shortage.
“The result of all these factors is a rampant increase in inflation – including labour, construction costs, service contracts and insurance rates,” DeHart states.
At the same time, the county’s population is growing which puts an increased demand on public services, the Bank of Canada has increased interest rates which makes it more expensive for the county to borrow money and the province has provided more exemptions on municipal development charges, which DeHart writes will result in an estimated loss between $11.8 million and $19.7 million in development charges over the next 10 years.
While the budget impact is higher than previously projected, DeHart notes it could have been higher if not for some mitigation measures already taken by staff.
“Without the strategic use of some of the county’s reserves and dedicating resources to correcting the gravel assessments, the county levy would have been at least 2 per cent higher,” the report states. “Other measures, including reallocating provincial funding in housing from capital uses to operating have also reduced the levy.”
These figures are preliminary and the forecast will be updated in January when a more detailed budget is presented.