Wellesley residents will seen a tax increase of 2.8 per cent this year, as council this week formally adopted the 2019 budget.

The increase amounts to an extra $37 per year, based for an average home with an assessed value of $336,000.

That figure is applicable to the township’s portion of the tax bill, with the bulk of the much higher claim on your wallet coming from the Region of Waterloo, which has yet to finalize its budget, and associated tax increase, for 2019. Given that the region accounts for more than half of the take, and generally goes for larger increases, the final bill is likely to be much higher.

This week’s meeting saw council deal with the budget within its control.

“To put things in perspective, we researched taxes charged in municipalities of a similar size to our own.” said township treasurer Theresa Bisch in a presentation to councillors Tuesday night. “As you can see, Wellesley taxes are just a bit lower than the overall average taxes charged in municipalities with a population of 15,000 or less.”

The tax increase, along with growth in property values in the township, is expected to raise an additional $178,000 for the township’s coffers in 2019, bringing the total tax revenues up to $4.8 million.

Those revenues will be put towards the township’s operating budget, which saw a similar increase over last year of 2.8 per cent, bringing the total up to $7.9 million for 2019.

More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of that amount will go towards actual operating costs for the township, while 23 per cent will be set aside in the township’s reserve funds for future expenditures. A final one per cent of the $7.9 million budget will be used to pay down the township’s long-term debts.

“As you can see, our debt costs are very low compared to our overall operating expenses. The transfer to reserves are what is used to fund the capital projects, both in the current year and the future years,” said Bisch.

“There are a few lines of thought on the debt,” she added. “When the township borrows money for a large purchase, such as we did for the new parkland, the cost of that purchase is spread over the life of the debt. This means that taxpayers will be paying for the purchase when they are using it in the future.”

The operating budget, which sets out the day-to-day costs of running the township, is funded primarily through taxes generated by the township (61 per cent), as well as revenues raised for township services (29 per cent), and provincial government grants (10 per cent).

However, the provincial government’s main contribution to the township’s operating budget, the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), has not been set yet for 2019, noted Bisch.

“The Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, more commonly referred to as OMPF, has increased over the past few years. The 2017 grant was $684,200 and the 2018 grant was $780,900. This grant is the only unconditional grant that the Township of Wellesley receives,” she said.

“I know there’s been some questions about the OMPF grant this year – we have not heard the funding yet. I was hoping we might hear it today [Tuesday], but no such luck.”

The  capital budget, meanwhile, which covers big expenditures and is funded primarily through the township’s reserve funds as well as government grants, was set for $5.9 million for the next two years. About half of that is pegged for public works projects in the township, with $2.7 million allotted for roadwork.

With the budget having already gone through deliberations and public meetings, councillors voted Tuesday night to approve the final version.

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