WINCHESTER – North Dundas has passed its 2023 budget at its April 12 regular council meeting.

Residents can expect an increase equal to 5.41 per cent in their municipal property taxes.

A home worth $214,000 that had a tax of $207.53 per month in 2022 will have an increase of $11.23 a month for a total of $218.76, (a month) in 2023, or a $134.80 increase on the annual total tax bill.

The 2023 revenues for North Dundas were $10,031,273. Costs for the municipality came to $18,268,982. The difference is $8,237,709. In 2022, that number was $7,209,707. This represents an increase of $1,028,002 over the 2022 levy.

Mayor Tony Fraser said, “In trying times we have stepped up as a group and put forward a budget that serves the community well.”

Fraser added the budget despite its constraints was a positive one that would serve the future of North Dundas in a positive way.

Other councillors shared the mayor’s comments.

Councillor Uhrig believed the budget was, “A challenging budget process given the outside constraints in which we’re all operating under.”

He noted the municipal staff had done a good job of cutting items from their “wish lists” and the budget was one based on reality.

Councillor Annable echoed the mayor’s sentiments. He said he had gone through the budget dozens of times and was happy with it.

He said, “I can’t see anything in it that’s excessive.” Annabel felt the items in the budget were the kinds of items the township needed to keep moving forward.

Deputy Mayor Theresa Bergeron agreed the budget was one made up of compromises.

“I went over the whole budget, and I think it’s a very good budget. We have some issues where it is beyond our control,” she said.

She noted that 51 per cent of the budget was devoted to maintaining the more than 400 kilometers of roads in the township.

Councillor Lennox applauded staff for being able to come up with the budget so quickly and efficiently.

Because municipal staff had already identified several new municipal costs that were coming from outside the council’s ability to control, thanks in part to provincial regulations, and an increase in municipal insurance premiums, which all Ontario municipalities are facing due to increasing incidents of bad weather. There was also provincial legislation mandating training requirements for firefighters at a cost of $157,520.

Municipal insurance premiums have increased (in addition to the 169K increase from 2021) which adds $225,644 to come from taxation.

The Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund has decreased by 15 per cent.  Recovering that reduction will, have to come from taxation to the tune of  $83,142 from taxation.

There has been a mandated policy to offer OMERS (Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System) to part-time staff. That amount, $37,226 will come from taxation.

Before the council had even looked through their 2023 budget they were faced with $503,532 in commitments that will have to come from taxation.

The March draft budget included the statement: “In addition to provincial and insurance pressures, inflation has had an outsized expected impact on the 2023 budget. To start the budget near to a palatable number, a considerable number of projects have been reduced or removed by administration before tabling this draft budget to the council. Several of these projects are projects that senior administration feel are important to the community and expected levels of service.”

Councillors agreed the budget would have to be one they passed knowing that they would have very little room for new projects, and instead tried to protect the level of service residents were used to having.

Added to the budget was funding for work on three roads: Beach Street $70,000, John Street $48,000, and Harper Street $53,764.

Due to an increase in vandalism to municipal equipment, a fenced security compound will be built on Ministry of Transportation property at a cost of $135,901. The property will be leased from MTO for one dollar a year for the next 20 years on land near the intersection of County Road 43 and Highway 31.

The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry, SD&G portion of this year’s taxes will be 3.72 per cent. The counties budget is $71 million. SD&G homeowners can expect to have to pay an increase of $48.47 for a home valued at $220,459.

SD&G has on its plate several infrastructure items that cannot be put off. They are 46.7 km of road resurfacing at a cost of $10.8 million, 21.2 km of pavement preservation, (micro-surfacing, crack sealing) for another $1 million. Bridge rehabilitation activities (including $780,000 for Ferguson Bridge) to the tune of $5.4 million, and Williamstown storm sewer lining at a cost of $350,000.

There are no increases in taxes from the Upper Canada District School Board.

Total SDG Counties taxation in 2023 is $55.1 million, which is an increase of $2.8 million from 2022.

The draft tax levy of $8,240,945 is an increase of $1,031,238 over the previous year as depicted in the chart below. The increase is significant but due to assessment growth the residential tax rate would increase by 9.78% with new assessment contributing 4.52%.

 Preliminary First Draft Revenues 2023 Expenditures 2023 Budget Levy 2023 Budget Levy 2022 Current Increase over Previous Year Per Summary $10,027,573 $18,268,518 $8,240,945 $7,209,707 + $1,031,238.

Should the Council wish to reduce the taxation levy – this can be accomplished by a reduction in costs or an increase in revenues (or a combination of both) from the current budget document.