Mapleton's second draft budget shows a 3.75 per cent tax increase

·3 min read

MAPLETON - As budget discussions progress, Township of Mapleton staff have managed to lower the projected 2022 tax increase by over one per cent.

As it stands in the second draft of the 2022 budget, tax rates are set to increase by 3.75. The first draft sat at five per cent.

“There was over one percent savings that staff found,” said mayor Gregg Davidson at Tuesday's council meeting.

“If you look at the budget, the three year average, the tax burden over the three year average is $7.15 per $100,000 that’s pretty good. We’ve done quite well here. We’ve only increased $7.15 per $100,000 in property value in three years.”

The capital budget for the 2022 budget is $6.1 million, which includes capital projects such as the respective consolidation projects of Edward Street and Sideroad 15, and the Moorefield water distribution high lift upgrade.

At Tuesday's council meeting, John Morrison, director of finance, reported that 42 percent of the capital budget is going to roads and sidewalk projects and 30 per cent of it will go to water and wastewater projects.

Council's main concern centred on the proposed rate increase of $25.48 monthly for water and wastewater for 2022.

Coun. Michael Martin put the motion forward after the council found out that there are only 948 customers who pay for the utility services; 854 of which are residential customers and 94 are commercial.

The rate increase is proposed to be used to fund infrastructure needs. The township pricing strategy is to pay off its debt burden and capital requirements through base charges, which includes water and wastewater services.

The pricing strategy was adopted to ensure equitable outcomes among users, that they pay their fair share and provide customers an economic incentive to conserve water.

Council did not think it was fair to increase the rates for only 948 Mapleton residents. So, they unanimously agreed to further discuss the increase at the last budget meeting of the year.

Morrison noted during the meeting that water rates might be higher in the next year, but in the next five years, it might go down.

“We might have the second highest water rates in the county next year but in five years we might not have the highest rates,” said Morrison.

“We have to ask questions such as can we maintain our assets and our level of services with these kinds of rates? Can we do things to help ourselves like make specific users pay for their own uses? Should we partner with other municipalities in terms of sharing the costs of those services? Can we defer some of these rate increases that we might find difficult? Can we take on debt if we have to?”

Morrison noted that the budget report is a multi-year budget and explained that part of the strategy is to both develop and stabilize the tax rates in order to sustain the number of assets and level of services.

In order to fulfil the sustainability and flexibility needed in order to be able to do short term and long term projects, Morrison explained that the department has introduced the workings of an asset management concept called replacement.

“Replacement costs are not something we have done before historically, which is causing some of the problems in our recent debates with the water rates,” said Morrison.

“Replacement means when you’re costing something, you’re not only thinking about how to pay with today’s dollars but what you need to pay for tomorrow’s dollars and what projects will create growth that will moderate the rates moving forward.”

Council unanimously received the second budget draft.

Next budget meeting is Dec. 14.

Angelica Babiera, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com

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