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Wellesley taxes to rise by 2.9%

Wellesley residents will see a 2.9-per-cent jump in the township portion of their property taxes in 2011, an increase of $15 on an average home assessed at $225,000.

The smallest percentage of the tax bill – the region and school board account for the bulk of it – the township portion will amount to an average of $720 this year.

The increase approved Tuesday night by Wellesley council was slightly smaller than the 3.4 per cent initially proposed.

The budget passed after only two public meetings on the issue. Ward 4 Coun. Paul Hergott said the streamlined budgetary process was due to township staff having started work on the budget back in September.

“Staff did a heck of a job coming in with something pretty close to what we had wanted. During the discussions, staff got together and we each cut something and got down to 2.9 (per cent). We were satisfied with that,” he said.

The extra revenue for the township will cover rising costs due to inflation, while offsetting a decrease in provincial grants over what was awarded in previous years.

Township director of finance Diane Lorbetski said some capital projects, such as road paving, were scaled back because of the lack of funding from senior governments, as both the Ottawa and Queen’s
Park are winding down stimulus grants.

“Most of our capital infrastructure projects that we’ve done have been one-third (funded) by the township, one-third by the provincial government and one-third from the federal government, so we were able to accomplish some big projects we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish otherwise,” said Lorbetski. “This year those grants aren’t available, so our capital projects will be reduced because of lack of funds.”

Commenting on the 2.9-per-cent increase, Mayor Ross Kelterborn noted it may seem slightly higher than some other municipalities, but the dollar amounts remain low. Each percentage-point jump amounts to just $35,000 in additional revenue.

Wellesley’s small population base means the change in the levy comes to just over $100,000, which doesn’t go far when it comes time to spend on capital projects.

“Percentages can be very misleading,” Kelterborn said. “If you say you’re going to get rid of 50 per cent of the dogs in Wellesley Township and you’ve only got two dogs, that (percentage) doesn’t give you the true story, does it?”

As with past years, Kelterborn kept his promise to Wellesley residents not to raise his salary above $10,000 per year while in office. His salary was listed at nearly $11,000 for 2010 and was set to go up to $17,000. Again this year, the salary above the $10,000 mark will be put into the reserve tax stabilization fund to help offset future tax increases.

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