The Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands recently approved a 2022 budget calling for a tax rate increase of 2.8 per cent.
Members approved the 2022 operating and capital budgets at a special township council meeting on Nov. 18.
Council's easy approval of the budget was unusual. Typically, it takes a couple of council meetings to make changes and approve everything on the budget, said township chief administrative officer Stephen Donachey.
"I'm really pleased that it passed through council at the meeting and now we can lay the groundwork for the plans for 2022," he said.
Council approved an operating budget of $14,271,400, with a net levy requirement of $10,799,400 for the new year.
Council also approved the capital budget in the amount of $5,723,600.
Township officials say the 2022 property rate is increasing by 2.8 per cent over the 2021 rate.
"The 2022 budget balances service levels that residents and businesses expect with a fair property tax rate and I am pleased that the township's residential tax rate remains among the lowest of the municipalities within the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville," said TLTI Mayor Corinna Smith-Gatcke in a prepared statement.
As well, "the average township residential (property), with an assessment value of $204,000, will pay $939 in township property taxes,” stated the township in the release, adding that it is an increase of $2.12 per month or $25 per year, over the 2021 amount.
The tax rate is made up of three components: The United Counties portion, the TLTI portion and the education share.
"We've got some big things on the horizon for 2022, as far as large projects go," said Donachey.
A large portion of the new capital budget was based on the TLTI asset management information, which helped identify assets with poor conditions rating and high risk ratings, which is new for the township to use, added Donachey.
The major capital projects for the upcoming year will include reconstruction of the Ivy Lea Pier, which is the main access point for islanders and contractors in that part of the river.
"It's long in need of refreshment," said Donachey, adding the work will be undertaken sometime in 2022.
The budget also will allow for repair work on public buildings, road work and upgrades and replacement of equipment and fleet. As well, it will include land acquisition and architectural design of a new fire station in Seeley’s Bay.
Donachey said the current fire station is located in the centre of the village is not ideal. Design and finding new land will be done in 2022, with construction possibly beginning the following year.
The 2022 budget will also allow the township to acquire a new fire pumper truck to replace a vehicle that is beyond its useful life, said Donachey.
The Community Grants Program is returning next year after the uncertainties around COVID-19 and municipal revenue put it on hold in 2021. The Community Grants Program will be allocated $125,000 in 2022.
The township continues to have a “very conservative estimate for revenues that will be generated by the casino for us in 2022," said Donachey, adding that because of the pandemic and climbing COVID-19 cases officials wanted a conservative estimate in case the Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands has to close because of further restrictions.
This year's estimate for casino revenue is $400,000, but it is highly dependent on COVID-19.
The full 2022 budget can be found online at www.leeds1000islands.ca/en/governing/Budget.aspx.
(Jessica Munro 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.)
Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times