Council sets tax hike at 3.5 per cent
The $1 million the city pulled from the policing budget, which has had a historical surplus averaged at $900,000 per year over the last five years, will be used to increase the budgets in four other categories, meaning the tax levy increase for the city is 3.5 per cent.
Council discussed several ways the money could be used, finally deciding to put it towards parks, road rehabilitation, the mayor’s new crime reduction task force committee and to offset the permissive sales tax exemption.
Coun. Albert Koehler said he felt the money should be used to decrease the tax levy and opposed the motion to spend it elsewhere.
“I would like to see the tax increase limited to the rate of inflation,” he said, adding it should be about two per cent. “We could do it if we wanted.”
The budgeting process for the city is now concluded.
Kathleen Soltis, acting city manager, said the next step is to set the tax rate, a task that first lands on the table of the city’s finance and audit committee, chaired by Cameron Stolz.
Mayor Shari Green mentioned that there were concerns last year after the tax rates were set and reminded the public the finance and audit committee meetings are open to the public.
The meetings where the tax rate will be discussed will likely take place March 4 and 18.
“The total levy is about 3.5 per cent,” Green said. “The tax levy increase is not necessarily the tax bill. Now we need to set the tax rate across the different classes.”
The $1 million moved from the policing budget will provide $60,000 in one-time funding to offset the permissive tax exemption, $200,000 for the crime reduction task force, $50,000 in one-time funding and about $54,000 in annual funding for parks as well as one-time funding of $200,000 and on-going funding of $680,000 for road rehabilitation.
“I would like to see the taxes at two per cent,” Coun. Brian Skakun said, agreeing with Koehler, however he added the money is going towards things that must be done.
Skakun along with councillors Dave Wilbur, Cameron Stolz, Lyn Hall and Frank Everitt and the mayor voted in favour of the motion.