Brooke-Alvinston taxpayers will pay 1.5 per cent more in municipal taxes this year.
Council approved the municipality’s 2021 budget Thursday.
Brooke-Alvinston’s treasurer delivered a budget to will hold the line on tax increases, but councillors added $45,000 to reserves to deal with any COVID-19 problems creating a 1.5 per cent tax increase. That will work out to a little more than $11 per $100,000 of assessment on a home or $4 more in taxes per $100,000 for farms.
Stephen Ikert recently presented the $4,288,629 operating and $4,747,130 capital budgets to council.
Ikert says the pandemic led to all sorts of disruptions which are reflected in the budget. Revenues dropped in recreational facilities, like the arena and the community centre.
Some big budget items, like the purchase of a new grader, were put off. The grader simply couldn’t be delivered on time due to COVID-19.
Brooke-Alvinston had expected to spend about $4.59 million in 2020 but instead spent about $4.226 million. Ikert held the line on the actual operating spending. One notable increase will be a 1.5 per cent wage increase for staff.
The municipality’s capital budget on the other hand nearly doubles 2020s. Ikert says items like the grader and a tractor in public works, which were put off in 2020, will be replaced in 2021 instead.
And Brooke-Alvinston received a large grant of $1,854,478 to spend on the $3.1 million upgrade of Rokeby Line.
“An aggressive capital budget made possible only due to the OCIP grant that was announced earlier in 2020,” Ikert wrote in his summary to council.
Even with the $4.59 million capital budget, the treasurer was able to bring total spending in line with last year’s spending resulting in no tax increase on the municipal tax bill.
Ikert says the draft budget “recognizes that many residents have faced setbacks because of the pandemic.”
But councillors are increasing spending by 1.5 per cent – putting an extra $45,000 in reserves instead.
Councillor Jamie Armstrong argued during budget deliberations that there should be some increase because the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic are going to keep rolling in.
“Just because COVID hit doesn’t mean that the cost of living isn’t going to continue to go up, we just paid all of our employees a 1.5 per cent cost of living increase, so I think that, at very least, we need to have a tax increase of 1.5 per cent,” he told councillors.
“I’m pretty sure that once COVID is over and we get back online here, we’re going to start having a lot more of these of these expenses come back, and more than likely, they’re going to come back at even a higher rate than 1.5 per cent.
“If we don’t continue to do small moves, we’ll end up giving people a four or five per cent or six per cent move, and people aren’t going to really enjoy that,” says Armstrong.
Councillor Jeannette Douglas also felt there should be some kind of increase.
In his budget presentation, Ikert said reserves would help cover any extra COVID-19 costs this year.