Three-per-cent hike in Gananoque draft budget

The Town of Gananoque recently discussed its 2023 budget.

The 2023 draft municipal budget includes a three-per-cent tax levy increase over the 2022 levy; the 2023 Police Services Board operating budget includes a 2.85-per-cent levy increase. The 2023 total consolidated operating expenses are $22,010,668, and the 2023 total consolidated operating revenues are $12,508,824.

For the 2023 levy calculation - the 2023 draft base tax levy is $9,501,864 - the Roll Return has not yet been received to determine real growth; however, the estimate is $668,000. Staff are proposing that the real growth be allocated to capital; that the net base levy increase between municipal and police is 2.8 per cent, and that a transfer of $1,028,167 to reserves from base tax levy to fund capital projects (two-per-cent decrease over 2022 level of $1,047,911).

In terms of 2023 expected provincial funding, the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), the annual transfer payment, is being reduced by $72,700 to $1,249,300. It was noted that in 2012 the OMPF was $2,109,800 but has steadily declined. In 2023 dollars, this $860,500 loss of provincial funding is equivalent to nine per cent of the tax levy.

In order to achieve a three-per-cent levy increase, budget reductions were proposed. This includes general reductions through all departments, additional revenues/user fees where possible, a draw from Winter Control Reserve to offset salt prices; reduction in encumbered taxes of $158,308, and the Public Works tree budget of $11,500 removed.

To combat the town’s infrastructure deficit, staff are recommending that 2023 Real Growth Taxation be dedicated to capital reserves as a partial solution (approximately $668,000 or 15 per cent of the current annual shortfall). And it was noted that council will have to decide to reduce assets, reduce service levels and/or increase taxes to achieve.

According to the staff report, the average Gananoque single-family dwelling, which was assessed at $196,408 in 2022, paid $2,658.84 in municipal taxes for the year.

Tax arrears at Oct. 31 were $1,640,130 (7.89 per cent at Dec. 31, 2021).

The average Gananoque household utility bill in 2022 is $119.68. Utility arrears at Oct. 31 were $389,026.43 or 17.4 per cent of year-to-date user consumption and capital fees.

(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