NAW taxes going up three per cent in $5.8 million budget

Golden Lake — Taxes are going up in North Algona Wilberforce on average between $41 and $53 per median household as ratepayers face a three per cent levy increase for the municipal portion of their tax bill, which does not include the county taxes or education tax.

“For every dollar, 56 cents goes to the municipality, 12 cents to the school boards and 32 cents to the county,” Clerk-Treasurer Michelle Mantifel explained during a budget presentation last Tuesday evening.

The 2024 budget is $5,812,696, of which $3,621,827 comes from the levy or amount charged to property owners. The township is also taking out more than $780,000 from reserves to balance the budget.

The municipality only controls its portion of property taxes while the county determines its property tax rates and school board tax rates are determined by the province, she explained.

“Growth is the key to lowering the property tax rate,” she said. “If there are more properties to collect the levy from, the individual share of the levy will decrease.”

Her overview of the budget during the special council meeting showed not only where the township will be spending money this year but also what kind of increase taxpayers will be facing. She said for a median single-family detached property with an assessed value of $193,000, the tax increase will be $41.09. In 2024, the taxes will be $1,402.06 and in 2023 the same property paid $1,360.97. This is only for the municipal portion of the property tax bill.

For those on waterfront, the median property value under the current value assessment was listed as $250,000 and the 2024 tax rate is $1,816.14, up $53.23 from 2023. This also is only for the municipal portion of the property tax bill.

The levy for 2024 is $3,621,827. This is a three per cent increase plus 2.1 per cent growth over the 2023 budget. Ms. Mantifel cautioned this does not mean property taxes will necessarily increase by three per cent as there are other factors including assessment, the type of property and the tax rate.

It was a relatively short and quiet special meeting of council held in the Golden Lake township building. The sole item on the agenda was a presentation of the budget and although North Algona Wilberforce Mayor James Brose read a list of the submitted questions, no answers were given that night. He said the answers would be posted on the township website and Facebook page by February 20, the day NAW was expected to pass the budget.

Submitted Questions

Questions on the budget, which had been posted to the township website, had to be submitted in writing by 3 p.m. that afternoon and Mayor Brose read the questions from three ratepayers. One of the topics which was raised several times was the operating costs for the Sno-Drifters property. One ratepayer questioned why the property was purchased without township consultation. Another noted the township is falling behind on road repair and putting money into the operation of the Sno-Drifters instead.

“Most of your residents would likely not have been in favour of the purchase of Sno-Drifters,” one resident stated in the written questions.

It was a snowy night and only a handful of residents ventured to Golden Lake to hear the presentation, even though they were not given the opportunity to ask questions and no member of council spoke about the budget or on the budget.

The budget of almost $6 million includes the bulk of funds from property taxes or the levy at $3.6 million, grants and funding at $1 million, other income of $343,367 and reserves at over $780,000.

Ms. Mantifel said property taxes are the largest source of revenue at 62 per cent. The township is also withdrawing $782,502 from reserves and this will account for 13 per cent of revenue.

Fees and other charges, including interest on taxes payable, account for six per cent of revenue.

In terms of property taxes, the total assessed value of all property in the township in 2024 is $525,276,901. Of this, 89.5 per cent is residential. The property value is an increase of $10.6 million in the last year.

The clerk-treasurer said grants and funding account for 18 per cent of the revenue. This includes the federal gas tax funding of $97,810. This money must be spent on a specific road or transportation project. The township also received a Canada Day grant of almost $2,000 and an Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) grant of $277,370 for specific transportation projects. The OMPF (Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund) is money for general needs and the township will receive $637,400. Another grant is the Canada Summer Jobs to offset wage costs for summer students.

Expenses

Expenses for 2024 totalled $5,812,696. The largest expense was for public works, then administration, followed by road construction.

Public Works and rolling stock repairs accounted for 29 per cent of expenses. This totals $1,688,731 in 2024, which includes $679,100 related to wages. Capital vehicles and equipment purchases include a tractor, one-ton truck and pick-up truck which will all be financed over five years.

Road construction was 17 per cent of expenses. Total expense is $988,900 in 2024. Out of this projects are planned on Point Church Road, Roesler Road, Scheuneman Road and Reiche Road, as well as putting $100,000 in reserves.

Treasurer, administration and municipal hall expenses amount to 17 per cent of expenses including $550,000 for wages, $4,000 to repair office flooring and create a plan for the municipal office and $100,000 in reserves for office renovation.

The fire department accounts for 10 per cent of expenses. In 2024, out of the $608,243, $167,500 was allocated for wages, as well as $65,000 for a used utility vehicle for the fire chief. There will also be four sets of bunker gear purchased and $10,000 put away for reserves.

Policing is nine per cent of expenses with a cost of $508,374 for the service provided by the Ontario Provincial Police. Ms. Mantifel noted in 2024 the cost is $4,097 less than 2023.

“The cost per property for OPP service is $260.16,” she said, noting this amounts to $506,536 with the rest of the bill from the OPP for cost adjustments.

Recreation is seven per cent of expenses with a total expense of $405,852 out of which $30,000 is related to wages. Donations and contributions of around $102,000 were attributed to the Rankin Community Centre at $3,000, Eganville and District Seniors at $5,000, Eganville Arena at $20,400, Bonnechere Union Public Library at $79,000 and the Bonnechere Museum at $2,000. A project under recreation this year is the trail network at $40,500.

Landfill and recycling is five per cent of expenses at $311,906 with $44,200 related to wages. Tipping fees to the Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre were $53,000 and there were also royalty fees to Laurentian Valley for hosting the landfill of $16,706. Hauling provided by the OWVRC was another $28,500 and the township contribution for the OVWRC landfill gas wells for the leachate system was $80,000. There was also $50,000 in reserves set aside for the Berndt Road Site.

The budget for wages showed a 3.9 per cent cost of living increase and a new full-time equipment operator for 2024.

Council expenses of $132,500 included $100,000 relating to wages and $6,000 for public relations.

The budget showed by-law enforcement expenses are 0.15 per cent of the expenses. Total expenses are $8,500 including $500 for wages. This budget includes $4,000 for training and $4,000 for supplies.

The building expenses, other expenses and community emergency measures account for three per cent of expenses. The total is $168,476 including $116,926 for wages. The Building Inspector accounts for $101,400 in wage costs and $25,000 in expenses.

Detailed budget documents are on the township website.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader