Norfolk’s proposed budget sees 7.5% property tax bump

By David Judd

COUNTY councillors got their first look last week at Norfolk’s proposed 2018 budget.
The news wasn’t great.
Doing everything Norfolk would like to do next year would push up property taxes by 7.5 per cent.
The average homeowner would pay an estimated $2,885 in municipal and school taxes, up $172 from 2017 or an additional $14 a month.
A 7.5 per cent increase would generate $86.3 million in property taxes, up from $79.6 million in 2017.
No doubt councillors will whittle down these numbers during their annual budget review in January.
The budget is a work in progress, Port Dover Coun. John Wells told The Maple Leaf.
“It’s not my intent to have an increase of 7.5 per cent.”
But holding the line on spending and property taxes won’t be easy.
County staff outlined several challenges during a five-hour advance look at the 2018 budget last Thursday.
Some highlights

o Ontario is cutting $332,000 in funding;
o Garbage and fire protection costs will rise by $700,000.
o Costs for materials, supplies and services are expected to increase by $564,000;
o Increases in salaries and benefits will cost $1.4 million;
o Higher minimum wages will add $125,000 to the cost of summer students;
o Higher contributions to county reserve funds will cost $1 million;
o Policing, public libraries and the Long Point Region Conservation Authority are estimated to cost $405,000 more.
Council has held annual tax increases on homes to less than 2.5 per cent for the last six years, Treasurer James Johnson said.
Norfolk has the lowest residential property taxes among 25 similar-sized municipalities in Ontario.
In 2016, the average Norfolk home paid $2,200 in property tax.
The average tax bill in municipalities with populations between 30,000 and 99,000 — including Brant, St. Thomas, Haldimand, Niagara Falls, Peterborough, North Bay and Timmins — was $3,300.
Word of Norfolk’s low property taxes hasn’t spread to residents, Coun. Wells told council.
“They don’t feel under-taxed,” he said.


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