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Wellesley ups tax increase to 2.44%

Wellesley bumped up its projected tax increase to 2.44 per cent from 2.2 per cent after a revision in forecasted revenue numbers.

The township called a special budget meeting for Tuesday night after discovering last week it will receive about half of the expected revenue from Waterloo North Hydro.

Originally recorded at $462,000, the township will actually be receiving $232,000 from its ownership stake in the utility, however without major impact on spending and increases. The number was wrong in the township’s original budget documents.

Theresa Bisch, township treasurer, says the budget originally discussed in council chambers earlier in January had contingencies in it, leaving a minimal impact to the overall budget.

“It comes in about where it was before,” she said after the meeting. “(The Waterloo North Hydro dividend) is about the same amount that we got last year. “

Wages and benefits for administration, IT, finance and recreation departments shown in the original 2016 draft budget were decreased by $92,391.

“It is not considered overestimating,” she said. “The reason why you would budget at the top rate of wages is because we don’t know what could happen throughout the year. I had budgeted all the wages at the top rate, it sounds strange, but that is how you normally do it. I just brought the numbers down to where they actually are. It is just tweaking little things. It is just cutting little bits here and there.”

Most township staff are considered long-term and are already at the top of the pay scale, but there is the potential for future staffing changes and new employees moving up in pay grade.

Capital projects found in the 2016 draft budget are still going ahead despite the change in revenues for the township, with little to no impact on planned acquisitions.

“In this operating budget, none of the big things are in conflict,” said Bisch. “They are all being funded from the reserves.”

The township also reduced the amount of money contributed to the reserve account by $20,000 to “offset the decreased revenue.”

The meeting was quick, with councillors around the table agreeing that not many more cuts could be made.

“I gather from this, really there isn’t too much we can chop,” said Coun. Herb Neher. “The operating budget, I don’t know how much lower we can go. There is nothing significant that I see in the operating budget that I can see that is going to have a real impact on the increase in the percentage.”

The 2016 Township of Wellesley budget will be put forth as a motion to be voted on at the next regular council meeting on Feb. 2 at 6:45 p.m.

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