Having opted against developing part of Victoria Glen Park, Woolwich will instead cover the $1.5-million shortfall by borrowing more money to pay for its recent building spree. That move will increase taxes by another 0.79 per cent, putting the tax rate hike at 4.48 per cent for 2010.
The jump will add $23.46 to the Woolwich portion of the average tax bill, based on a home valued at $214,000.
The budget tentatively approved by township council Tuesday night includes a 1.69 per cent increase in the basic tax rate and a two-per-cent special levy for capital facilities. This is the last year of that program.
Also approved was a water-rate increase of 7.26 per cent, to $1.33 per cubic metre from $1.24. That represents about a $16- to $22-per-year jump for the average household. The wastewater rate will climb by 10.1 per cent, to $1.63 per cubic metre from $1.48, adding about $27 to $36 per year to the average annual cost.
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Much of the water and wastewater cost increases are based on similar jumps in costs charged to the township by the Region of Waterloo, explained treasurer Richard Petherick.
While the cumulative effect of the budget increase is almost 4.5 per cent, chief administrative officer David Brenneman noted the basic increase, leaving aside the capital building requirements, is 1.69 per cent, much closer to the Consumer Price Index, currently hovering around one per cent.
Given that the special levy for facilities has been in place for a few years, and the Victoria Glen decision forced the township to borrow more money, councillors appeared resigned to this year’s increase; the budget was passed with no debate.
A report presented by Petherick shows that even with a 4.48 per cent jump, only North Dumfries residents pay less than Woolwich taxpayers – $355.60 versus $523. 50 – on the municipal portion of the taxes on an average home. Wellesley Township residents pay $728.74; Wilmot $614.97; City of Waterloo $906.16, Kitchener $964.65 and Cambridge $970.25. Nearby municipalities outside Waterloo Region are also higher: Centre Wellington at $681.11 and Mapleton Township $745.80.
Driving part of this year’s increase are higher costs for staff salaries and wages, which account for more than half of the overall budget. Pay increases alone will amount to more than $120,000, and new hires at the Woolwich Memorial Centre will add another burden of $134,000.
To put those figures in perspective, each one percentage point increases in taxes amounts to about $60,000.
While the township again put aside plans to hire three additional support staff, there will be new additions in the Woolwich Fire Department, which plans to add a new substation in Breslau. One of the department’s older trucks will be stationed in the village and five additional volunteer firefighters will staff the location at a cost of about $19,000 a year.
The location will be a satellite operation of the Maryhill station, explained fire chief Rick Pedersen.
Longer-term, the township has plans for a permanent station as Breslau continues to grow.
Across the department, firefighters this year will receive a three-per-cent pay increase and stand-by fees will go up by $50 a year, adding $14,000 to the budget.
In a symbolic gesture, Woolwich councillors voted to freeze their pay for 2010. Last year, the mayor was paid $23,114, while the four councillors each received $11,557.