Township residents are on the hook for the bulk of a regional budget that will again outstrip inflation this year.
The Region of Waterloo last month passed a budget that hikes taxes by 3.84 per cent, adding $78 per year to the average household’s bills, based on an assessment of $394,000.
This year’s tax increase includes 2.46 per cent for regional services and 1.38 per cent for the police budget.
While exempt from the cost of some services available only to the region’s cities, and in particular the debt servicing and operating deficits of light rail transit, township residents will still see large increases in the regional portion of their tax bills, which now claims 63 cents of every dollar.
In Woolwich, for instance, the impact of the tax hike will be 3.04 per cent, or $61.74, while in Wellesley it’s 3.12 per cent ($63.38). North Dumfries is also at 3.12, while Wilmot’s increase is 3.42. Residents of the three cities – Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo – will see their regional taxes rise by 3.93 per cent.
“The tax impacts for the townships differ from the tax impact in the cities due to the two ‘area-rated services,’ namely library and transit. The cost of library services is levied only in the four townships, while for the most part the cost of transit services is levied in the three cities,” explained Craig Dyer, the region’s chief financial officer, in an email. “Tax impacts also differ by township as a result of varying levels of transit service provided in each township.”
The extension of conventional Grand River Transit buses to Woolwich and Wilmot townships explains the higher increases in those two townships, while residents in all four townships must pay for specialized mobility transit and for the Region of Waterloo Library system.
All other regional services, including police, are billed to every resident.
“The bulk of it will apply to residents here,” said Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak of the tax increase.
On the capital side, regional roads that run through the townships are typically the big-ticket items, though many of those projects have been pushed back or scaled down in recent years as the region struggle with escalating light rail transit costs. Projects such as Church and Arthur streets in Woolwich have been delayed for some years, for instance, though there are plans to go ahead with work on Sawmill Road in Bloomingdale.
In Wellesley, there’s just one major project this year, Kressler Road. The township sees the need for more improvements, however.
“We have a list of road work we’d like to see done, but they keep putting them off,” said Nowak, pointing to stretches of Nafziger and Queen’s Bush roads.
Ongoing infrastructure deficits afflict the township, as is the case in every municipality, he added.
“It’s certainly a challenge. There’s pressure on the township, but also at the regional and provincial levels.”