Petrolia staff suggest one per cent tax increase

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Petrolia’s staff is budgeting for a one per cent tax increase in 2018.
Treasurer Rick Charlebois took four and a half hours Thursday to outline the draft document to councillors.
The town expects to bring in $7.01 million in revenue this year through taxation and grants. It will spend about $5.137 million on the day-to-day operations of the town, if council approves the budget at its Nov. 27 meeting. The public will get a chance to see the details of the document on Nov. 14 according to Charlebois.
The proposed increase would see the municipal taxes on a home assessed at $100,000 go up about $10 in 2018. The Sarnia Lambton Real Estate Board says the average home price is now $263,000 – making the increase about $26.
The draft budget shows $1.41 million of that will go to the administration of town including staff salaries, insurance, legal costs and the cost associated with Victoria Hall.
Public works will spend $1.247 million on salaries, roads, winter control, waste collection and street lights.
The other big ticket item is policing. The town will pay an estimated $1.003 million to the OPP for policing services in 2018. The budget also includes about $68,000 to deal with the increases to the minimum wage. It’s expect to rise to $14 per hour in 2018.
According to the town’s year end financial statement in 2016, Petrolia employs 36 full time and 68 part-time employees. It’s not clear if that is the current staff compliment.
An analysis of the budget shows a total of $2.365 million is budgeted for wages and benefits in 2018 – 41.7 per cent of the entire budget. That’s up $141,078 from 2017’s estimates.
Councillors wages will also go up slightly – at the same rate as the staff increase which is 1.75 per cent in 2018 according to the treasurer.
Charlebois says the town plans to spend $1.612 million on capital with about $1.3 million coming from the current years revenue. The rest will be covered by donations, reserves or borrowing.
Public works will spend the lion’s share with $500,000 set aside on road repairs, $25,000 for sidewalk replacement, $30,000 for consulting and $706,000 in the budget for the second phase of the Florence, Kerby and Egan reconstruction.
The town’s quarterly financial statements show the first phase was about $54,000 over budget. Charlebois is not sure if there will be federal and provincial grants for the second phase.
The budget shows the Oil Heritage District Community Centre will run a $450,000 deficit in 2018. It will cost $315,770 to provide upkeep to the town’s parks and recreational venues. Included in that budget according to Director of Facilities Dave Menzies is $10,000 to improve the trail on the north side of Bridgeview Park.
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia plans to renovate the box office. Officials say the $40,000 cost will be paid through donations.
The town is also planning to spend $50,000 to install an electronic sign surrounded by a sidewalk in Victoria Park. There is also plans to spend $10,000 on the hall’s bar and lobby, and $15,000 on new recycling/garbage bins at Victoria Hall.
The town has also budgeted $64,800 to replace the fire department’s radio system.
There are plans to purchase a wood chipper to shred tree branches at the road side.
The treasurer has also set aside $60,000 for composting adding council has to set direction for what service is needed.