Township council has approved a 3.99 per cent property tax increase for 2017.
This is comprised of a 1.95 per cent base rate, plus 2.04 per cent for additional items.
The base rate will offset general inflation and maintain existing service levels, while the additional items will be used for “a continued commitment to infrastructure and protective services, to maintain balanced and efficient development and provide support resources in response to growth and legislative requirements,” according to a report to council.
These additional items include more than $1.2 million for infrastructure, such as facilities, transportation, parks, and road paving; $213,444 for hiring new protective services staff, including four new firefighters and a bylaw officer; and $35,000 for homeless camp cleanups.
The household impact is an additional $71 per year, or $5.92 per month, according to the report.
Final adoption of the bylaw was given on March 6, with a 7-1 vote. Coun. Kim Richter was opposed and Coun. Michelle Sparrow was absent.
While Richter said she supports the 1.95 per cent base increase, she believes 3.99 per cent is too high.
“The average house will pay a 3.99 per cent increase, but the larger properties with higher assessed values — so in other words the SR (suburban residential) and the acreages out in the rural part of the community — will invariably pay more.
And I don’t think it’s fair that those rural residents should bear the brunt of a big tax increase like this,” she said.
“A lot of the people that live on those acreages and in those SR homes are seniors, and those seniors are on fixed incomes.
“So, to me, there’s something wrong with our tax system and how we’ve set it up, where year after year after year, seniors — who are long term residents of this community on larger properties — bear an unfair burden, a larger burden, than anybody else in the community.”