This article was first published on EloraFergusToday Nov. 14.
CENTRE WELLINGTON ‒ Residents could expect a 4.5 per cent tax increase in 2024 to accommodate the costs of inflation.
In an update on operating and capital inflation, managing director of corporate services and treasurer Adam McNabb said the township's 2024 tax-supported operating budget has to increase by 4.5 per cent, formerly 6.7 per cent in June, to maintain 2023 spending levels.
This follows a pre-budget meeting earlier this year where council approved staff direction to prepare the 2024 budget with a tax rate increase of six per cent or less, with the goal of reducing the figure to 4.5 per cent.
The township is currently looking at $23 million worth of projects in 2024, according to its draft budget.
"Higher inflationary impacts result in more pressure applied to departmental budgets in attempting to maintain existing service levels," said McNabb in the report.
Looking forward to the 2024 budget, a resident survey identified growth management, roads and bridges, and parks, sports fields, and trails as the top three tax-supported service areas in need of additional resources.
"(We need to keep) up with infrastructure to accommodate the already growing community...(and) focus more on the needs of current residents and less on tourists, BIA’s and the ECFTA," said one anonymous commenter. "I think the young families are struggling without property tax increases including the County of Wellington portion."
When asked about the preferred option to support township services, respondents preferred an increase in user fees for programs over cutting services or increasing taxes to maintain or enhance current services.
Seventy per cent of the 209 responses received suggested that the value for services is fair or better.
"Growth management is central to controlling future costs associated with urban sprawl, including risks to infrastructure from climate change-related severe weather events, to food sustainability, source water protection and transportation-related emissions," said another comment. "Keep the urban centres compact."
Further information will be provided to council as the 2024 Budget timeline progresses.
The full report is available here.
Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program