Town of Lakeshore approves 2021 budget with tax increase

·2 min read

The Town of Lakeshore council has voted five to three in favour of approving its 2021 budget.

The council voted after two full days of deliberation Monday and Tuesday.

The budget includes a property tax increase of 2.71 per cent. When combined with rate changes at the county and education levy, the average home in Lakeshore, priced at $300,000, will pay a projected $37.00 more per year in tax compared to 2020 — a 1.17 per cent increase.

Mayor Tom Bain says the tax increase is necessary to fund essential infrastructure projects, among them rebuilding and expanding the local sewage treatment plant and fixing the town's old waterlines.

"We were almost in a situation where infrastructure needs such as sewage and water take a priority, and are actually a health and safety matter where we needed to go ahead with these projects," he said.

Katerina Georgieva/CBC
Katerina Georgieva/CBC

Bain added that he was happy with the proposed budget — especially considering the negative effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on municipal finances.

"Certainly we've had problems with COVID, and there was a problem with cost overrun with regards to the COVID problem," he said. "But we were able to work that in our budget and still do some infrastructure projects."

Bain added that he's also feeling optimistic about Lakeshore's long-term financial situation.

"Well, I think we're doing actually real well," he said. "Construction as far as residential development continues, Lakeshore is actually a leader in Essex County and it continues. And we're also doing fairly well in attracting new businesses to the area."

The town has recently been the site of controversy, as several residents have complained of unusually high water bills.

Bain said it's an issue the town is working daily to address.

"Well certainly we've had those complaints and we're trying to deal with each of those complaints individually," he said. "So daily, we're trying to deal with individual complaints and get to the bottom of the problems."