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Wellesley approves budget with 3.9% hike

The average Wellesley homeowner can expect to pay an additional $42 this year on the township portion of their tax bill under a budget approved this week by council.

That includes a 3.355 per cent tax hike and a new special greening levy of 0.5 per cent, which add $36.17 and $5.43 respectively to the bill of a home with an assessed value of $399,038. Township taxes on such a property will be $1,086.55, up from $1,055.81 last year.

The document approved by councillors meeting Tuesday night features an operating budget of $8.3 million and capital expenditures of $3.4 million, which doesn’t include any provision this year for a planned new recreation complex.

While some planning will get underway for a new rec. complex to replace the Wellesley arena, it’s not part of the 2020 budget. The township is looking for the bulk of the financing to come from the federal and provincial governments, along with community fundraising efforts. With that money in place, Wellesley would have a better idea of how much it would need to borrow via a debenture to pay for the project, said Mayor Joe Nowak.

What this year’s 3.4 per cent increase covers is inflationary cost increases, some additional money for reserve funds and some new expenses such as the township’s portion of the region’s switchover to a new radio system.

“That was one per cent right there, about $60,000,” said Nowak, noting councillors looked to keep the increase as low as possible.

“It would have been nice to keep it under three (per cent), but we couldn’t do that this year.”

To save some dollars this year, the township has put off some projects such as road improvements.

“We cut back on some of the road work we would have liked to have done this year,” he said.

Recently introduced in Woolwich, a greening levy is a first for Wellesley this year. The township is looking to raise about $25,000 from the 0.5 per cent tax, with most of the money going towards planting trees. There will also be an educational component, said Nowak.

“Hopefully it’s well received,” he said of the levy. “It’s certainly a topical issue right now.”

The greening initiative is part of the township’s commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also working on a carbon budget in partnership with Sustainable Waterloo Region, steps that will include switching over an ice resurfacer at the arena to electric power and the installation of three electric vehicle recharging stations.

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