Smiths Falls budget nearly finalized
Smiths Falls has just completed first and second reading of its 2019 budget. The budget had been placed on hold pending the province’s announcement on the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund allocations.
“As of March 14, 2019, we received notification, that our 2019 allocation was going to remain unchanged from 2018 at $3,586,200,” said town Treasurer Janet Koziel in her report to council.
This final budget introduces a modest tax hike and water rate increases.
“Ideally there is no tax increase, but in the real world we know expenses are going up every year and council made a decision to reflect the rate of inflation when it comes to the overall tax increase,” Mayor Shawn Pankow, told Lake 88.
The tax rate will go up by 1.49 percent, which, with the added 0.91 percent assessment growth will result in a 2.4 percent tax increase for most town homeowners.
According to Kozeil that will translate to about $67 a year more on the average house assessed at $165,000.
“It’s a responsible choice, understanding that we have a lot of capital work that we’re doing this year,” said Pankow. “We’re using lot of this year’s tax revenue to pay for capital work, enabling us to do what we need to do. When we commit to infrastructure renewal, we have to make sure we do the right amount of work each year.”
The town is committed to completing about $9 million in infrastructure work this year, and is also supporting the Perth Smiths Falls and District Hospital’s capital campaign to the tune of $174,000.
Water rates will also be going up again, although very modestly again, adding $5.29 to the average bi-monthly water bills.
“On the water rate side a two and three percent increase is lower than the water rate study has recommended, and it’s the second year in a row we have not met that,” Pankow told Lake 88.
The hope is that as the town grows and the new Canopy Growth bottling plant comes online, more water will be sold to offset some of the subsidy that’s still required from tax payers to cover the cost of producing water and treating wastewater.
“I think this budget is measured, and if we’re going to have increases it’s as fair as it can be,” concluded Councillor Wendy Alford.
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