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Centre Wellington proposing 7.38 per cent tax increase in 2024

CENTRE WELLINGTON ‒ Residents should brace themselves for significant tax increases in 2024.

Deliberating during committee of the whole over two days, Centre Wellington council is now proposing a 7.38 per cent tax levy increase in the 2024 budget, costing the average homeowner $98.70 a year.

That does not include the county portion of any tax increase. That currently sits at 4.8 per cent.

Justifying the 8.54 per cent tax increase proposed in the budget book's first draft, CAO Dan Wilson said the municipality is playing "a little bit of catch-up" from 2023.

"We're finding there were a lot of items in 2023 that increased drastically...and to be honest, the 3.53 per cent increase last year didn't cut it," said Wilson, during his presentation. "We're really in a pressure situation when it comes to budget versus actual results."

At the beginning of the meeting, staff suggested 11 potential reductions to lower the proposed levy increase 1.75 per cent.

However, council only passed five of their recommendations including using OLG funds to offset the termite levy and not renting temporary washrooms for Elora during tourist season – lowering the proposed increase 1.10 per cent.

Coun. Kim Jefferson also passed a motion to phase council and staff's remuneration increases over two years, saving 0.07 per cent for the tax levy.

"(The overall salaries will) end up in the same spot, it (will) just take a little longer to get there," said Coun. Bronwynne Wilton, who chaired the meeting. “Considering we’re asking our taxpayers for more…this seems like an easy one to move forward on”

In 2023, there was a 3.53 per cent increase, a 2.16 per cent increase in 2022 and a 1.33 per cent increase in 2021.

One per cent of the tax levy is equivalent to a $12.21 tax increase for residents.

The proposed budget will be approved during the Dec. 18 council meeting.

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com