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Wellesley eyes 2% to 3% increase in taxes going into 2016 budget talks

Wellesley council will be eying a two to three per cent tax increase in next week’s 2016 budget discussions, says the township’s mayor

“It’ll definitely be under three [per cent]. I guess the safest thing for me to say right now is somewhere between two and three, but definitely under three. What we’re doing this year is we’re building reserves. We have a fairly significant agenda. It’s a very aggressive agenda, with things that we’d like to do township wide. We have to start putting some money away for that sort of thing,” Joe Nowak said this week.

Council was presented with a draft budget prior to Christmas with a proposed 3.178 per cent tax increase, but Nowak says he thinks council will be able to pare that down. Back in September council advised township staff they’d like to see the tax increase stay between 1.5 and three per cent.

He said he’s got quite a list of issues residents want to see addressed, from the last municipal election when he was out knocking on doors. Adding trails and recreational land was top of mind, he notes. The township’s fire master plan will be completed and brought to council soon. It’s unclear what sort of budget implications it will have.

“We’re going to be looking for some funding to do a community improvement plan. We’re going to be looking at doing some work on Wellesley Pond. There’s a pretty significant list of issues that we’re  going to be tackling. I think that this year if  you look at the budget closely, most of what I’ve seen – we were given the draft copy of the budget before Christmas – most of what I see in the budget is putting away some reserves, so that by 2017 we have money there to tackle some of these issues that we’re going to have to deal with. It’s ambitious, but I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Nowak said.

They’re planning to have a town hall in regards to the pond this year. Nowak has been in discussions with the Grand River Conservation Authority, as recently as Tuesday, about getting that organized. He’d like to have a plan in place by this summer about what to do with the pond, so they can begin their funding applications and get money together to do the work in 2017.

“The GRCA has budgeted some money for some restoration work at the dam for 2017. It would be nice if we did sort of everything together.”

While many of the projects in the draft budget are for 2017, he’s hoping they can get some trail work done in the township this year, along with the rural economic development application for funding.

“We’re also in pretty good financial shape, so we’re fortunate. Our debt is not significant compared to others,” Nowak said.

Budget discussions begin on Jan. 11.

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