Plympton-Wyoming increases town taxes two per cent

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Plympton-Wyoming homeowners will be shelling out another two per cent for municipal taxes.

Councillors got their first look at the budget Jan. 19. Treasurer Norma Roddick-Preece says the proposed $24 million operating and capital budget with a proposed four per cent tax increase. The administrative proposal drew heavily on the municipality’s savings. About $5.7 million is recommended to be taken out of reserve to complete projects. “Future budgets will need to start to rebuild depleted reserves,” she said at the time.

But councillors were not prepared to raise taxes at the current rate of inflation. “Everybody is getting hit hard and we thought it was a good opportunity to come in as low as we could,” says Mayor Lonny Napper.

“It would have been a little dangerous to go down below two per cent because I think the rate of inflation was five (per cent) or something like that. And we have obligations here that we got to keep up with. So we sent it back and thought we could live with a two per cent increase.”

Councillor Mike Vasey agreed. “Especially with the COVID factor, everybody is feeling the pincher email. So if we can keep the budget, down to what I say a reasonable number, it helps everybody out. Because your food bills are going up, everything else is going up,” he says.

“I don’t believe in zero ever because then you’re losing ground and we’re losing ground at two per cent. But our reserves are such that we can afford a little bit of leeway here and save everybody on taxes a little bit, and this is a good year to do it.”

Vasey adds it is difficult however, since a lot of the big ticket items the municipality has to put money in are also going up.

Included in the 2022 is $250,000 set aside for Highland Glen – a park the municipality is currently in negotiations to take over from the St. Clair Parkway Commission. Plympton-Wyoming requested the regional park be turned over because the authority was taking a lot of time trying to decide whether to rebuild an ice-damaged boat ramp and the erosion ravaged shoreline.

Originally, $1 million was set aside by staff, however councillors didn’t expect they would be able to spend that much in 2022, considering the town doesn’t even own the park yet. Conservation authority figures pin the cost of refurbishing the ramp and repairing the shoreline damage at about $3 million over a number of years.

There is also money set aside in the PW budget to reinforce the slope of Hillcrest Road, which has been failing for a couple of years, and the reconstruction of Queen Street between Fleming Road and Windcliff Lane. The area is ripe with new housing developments.

As it stands, the capital budget is up $1.3 million from 2021 and the operating budget has increased $1.1 million from 2021.

The largest increase comes in the general government portion of the budget with spending going up 13.2 per cent.

But staff continue to point out the town is falling further behind maintaining the assets it already has.

If the town were to adequately maintain all it’s assets, Roddick-Preece says taxes would need to go up 72 per cent or $6 million.
With the changes made by council and with housing prices in Lambton averaging at $475,000 this year, that would amount to about $63 more a year.