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Wellesley residents facing 2.98% tax hike as council progresses on 2018 budget

Wellesley residents are looking at a 2.98 per cent tax increase this year as township council drills into its 2018 budget.

That would add $43 a year to the township portion of the property taxes of an average home assessed at $349,000.

With the new tax rate, the township anticipates raising total tax revenues to $4.6 million, a four per cent increase from last year’s budget.

The operating budget for 2018 was set at $7.7 million, an increase of 3.5 per cent from last year. The capital budget, meanwhile, is being proposed at $4.3 million, up significantly from last year’s budget of $2.9 million.

The two biggest changes in capital expenditures this year was an additional $900,000 for bridges and $700,000 in fire department projects.

“I think it’s a good budget,” said Mayor Joe Nowak. “It’s certainly a forward-looking budget, or continuing to do some of the work that our constituents wanted. We’re paving more of rural roads, we’re doing sidewalk work. So yes, I think it’s a decent budget.”

He noted that this year, the township had carefully scrutinized the reserve funds, to ensure they were stable for future projects.

“We’re putting money aside for the fire hall in St. Clements. Actually this year we’re going to have a look at the engineering and get that done, and then hopefully the following year we can start doing some major work up there,” he said.

In the operating costs, wages had predictably gone up in light of the minimum wage hike at the start of the year. The budget for part-time employee wages in the recreation department doubled to $75,000, though still only represented a fraction of the $500,000 allotted for full-time workers. Similarly, part-time wages for planning and works employees increased 40 per cent to $40,000 – though the change was marginal next to the $665,000 for full-time staff.

A new reserve fund was also set up for a future park at the corner of Hutchinson and Queens Bush roads. Money collected in this reserve will go towards creating the new parkland in Wellesley Village.

In grant revenue, the township is anticipating $805,000 this year, including an Ontario Municipality Partnership Fund (OMPF) transfer of $781,000, a 14 per cent increase over last year’s grant.

The draft budget has been approved tentatively by the township council, after public meetings last week. One more public meeting will be held February 6 at the regularly scheduled council meeting, where council is looking to ratify the budget. The 2018 draft budget can be reviewed on the township’s website at  www.wellesley.ca.

Smaller items on the budget include the closure of the concession stand at the St. Clements arena, which had been operating at a loss; a bump in recurring computer expenses; and new revenues of $14,000 from fire inspections.

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