Gananoque budget calls for 3% tax hike

Gananoque town council is poised to adopt a 2023 budget calling for a three-per-cent tax increase.

As part of those budget deliberations, Gananoque council has given direction to staff as it relates to funding an additional $60,000 needed for Joint Services.

The additional funds will be found by funding the Community Grant Budget and Council Grant Budget from the town’s casino revenue rather than taxation.

This would save $50,000. The current balance in the Community Grant reserve is $120,750.

The remaining $10,000 could be taken from the tax writeoff budget; as the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) has not done a reassessment for 2023, the volume of tax appeal applications should remain comparable to 2022.

The draft budget included $57,500 for tax writeoffs. In 2022, tax writeoffs totalled $38,767.

Meanwhile, the operating and capital budget bylaw was read a first and second time and will be considered and read a third time for final passage on Feb. 7.

At the Dec. 8 and 9 budget meetings, council reviewed the draft 2023 operating and capital budgets. The 2023 draft municipal budget included a three-per-cent levy increase.

The 2023 draft police services budget included a 2.85-per-cent levy increase. During the budget meeting, $15,000 was added to the corporate services budget for insurance deductible claims and $2,000 was added to the council budget for additional conferences. This was offset by the police budget hike coming in at 2.85 per cent rather than the estimated three per cent.

The 2023 draft municipal tax levy, excluding real growth, is $9,519,290. This includes a three-per-cent levy increase over 2022 in the amount of $277,260.

If the 2023 tax ratios remain at 2022 levels, additional funds of $231,365 will be contributed due to net real growth. These are additional units added to the roll for 2023 taxation. These additional revenues are budgeted to be transferred to the town’s capital reserves.

Since MPAC did not undertake a reassessment for the 2023 roll return, properties are assessed at the same value in as in 2022, 2021 and 2020, unless there was a change to the property.

According to the report given to council, based on the MPAC data, the average house assessment in 2023 is $183,480. If the 2023 tax ratios remain at the 2022 levels, the average house will see an increase on the municipal share of the property taxes from $2,483.83 in 2022 to $2,558.35 in 2022. This is an average increase of $74.52 or three per cent.

The Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), which is the annual transfer payment from the province to the town, has been further reduced to $1,249,300, $72,700 less than 2022. This accounts for 26 per cent of the 2023 levy increase.

The municipal grant to the town’s library was increased by three per cent and museum funding is increasing by two per cent over the 2022 level, which includes both the grant and the artifact oversight funding.

The Federal Gas Tax Grant allotment to the town is $341,465 for 2023. The Ontario Community Infrastructure Funding for 2022 is $851,054.

These funds may be used for any capital projects, including roads, bridges, water and wastewater projects, that are identified in the Asset Management Plan.

In 2023 they will be applied to the Arthur Street reconstruction. An allocation of $222,014 of the OCIF funding will be spent on the water and wastewater shares of the Arthur Street project to provide some additional revenue to the system.

The budget for casino revenues has again been projected at $965,000, based on the 2022 year-to-date funding. These funds are used for capital projects, economic development and community grants and a contingency fund.

The operating budget includes a contribution to capital reserves of $1,259,517.

After the budget meeting, the manager of parks and recreation advised that two capital projects which were scheduled for December 2022 were not completed and both projects would need to be added to the Carry Forward Project.

These projects are the arena boiler replacement for $20,000 and the arena backflow prevention for $12,000. Both are now included in the 2023 capital budget.

Eight applications for the 2023 Council Grants program were reviewed by council. Grants were approved, subject to budget adoption, as follows: Royal Canadian Legion ($2,000), Gananoque Horticultural Society ($1,500), Gananoque Curling Club ($4,000), Gananoque Arts Network ($5,000), Kingston Prize Event ($3,000) - Wheels of Care ($7,000), Chamber of Commerce for the 2023 Santa Parade ($2,500). The total is $25,000.

A 2023 Business Improvement Area (BIA) budget has not yet been received for council consideration. The AGM has been rescheduled for Feb. 1.

The 2023 Joint Services transfer to the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville (UCLG) budget was increased by three per cent in the draft budget, to a net amount of $799,640.

The Joint Services Committee (JSC), comprised of the counties and the mayors of the separated municipalities of Gananoque, Brockville and Prescott, met on Jan. 10 to review the draft budget. The first draft included an increase to Gananoque of 21 per cent or a net transfer of $949,172. This is $149,532 more than what was included in the draft operating budget.

The JSC will meet again on Feb. 7 with counties staff being directed to rework the budget and present a second draft.

Gananoque Mayor John Beddows and staff are reportedly hopeful that the increased share for Gananoque will come in closer to an additional $60,000 above current budget levels.

(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)

Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times