2.66 per cent increase
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | January 11, 2018
Changes in property assessment values and new construction in Haliburton County are expected to have a positive impact on this year’s planned tax increase.
According to an overview of the proposed county budget for 2018, residential property owners can expect a 2.66 per cent tax increase, which is 2.2 per cent less than last year’s increase of 4.86 per cent. That’s an extra $5.15 for every $100,000 of assessed residential property value. Last year it was $8.97.
The draft budget includes a tax levy of about $16.45 million, an increase of roughly $1 million or 5.88 per cent from 2017. It’s offset by approximately one per cent due to growth, such as new construction. The levy has increased every year since 2003, when it was $7.3 million.
“The increase in the tax is 2.66 per cent because all the assessment values increased,” explained county treasurer Elaine Taylor during a special meeting on Jan. 4. “Some of that is growth, but a large chunk of it is not. It just means people’s assessments went up, the value of their property went up, the taxes went up. You had more property tax.”
Overall assessment growth is up 3.55 per cent in 2018. This is comprised of new construction, renovations, demolitions and property value appeals. The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) assesses properties every four years. According to Taylor, it appears they’ve completed assessments on more properties now. She speculated the increase in growth is due to that progress. For industrial properties, the tax increase is an extra $8.84 for every $100,000 of assessed value. That’s because these properties have a higher tax ratio.
The total levy is shared by the county’s four municipalities—Algonquin Highlands, Dysart et al, Minden Hills and Highlands East—based on their property assessment values. Each municipality issues tax bills to property owners, which include the municipal rate, county rate and the education rate. The municipal and education rates have not been finalized. Following previous meetings, additional costs totalling $137,654 were added to the county’s draft budget, including a $50,000 contribution for the construction of a left turn lane on County Road 21 and a $50,000 contingency for costs associated with Bill 148.
Councillors addressed reserves and the need to put more money in them. In the last six years, these accounts have decreased from around $4.3 million In 2011 to less than $2.5 million in 2017. It’s expected to drop to $2.14 million this year.
“It’s not a healthy position as far as reserves are concerned,” said Deputy Warden Liz Danielsen, adding it needs to be discussed.
CAO Mike Rutter didn’t disagree and noted the majority of reductions were planned. For the last two years, $144,000 has been set aside for the second phase of Whispering Pines in Haliburton.
Coun. Murray Fearrey recommended adding one per cent to the budget for reserves. This is about $150,000 in addition to the $817,000 already being transferred. Reserves are important because they help the county manage unexpected events, Taylor told The Highlander. Council agreed and voted to put $100,000 into reserves and $50,000 towards hiring a consultant to undertake a study for the rural transportation project.
Since there has been a $38,800 decrease in MPAC fees, the overall increase to the current draft of the budget is $111,200. A document with any changes to the second draft of the budget will be presented at the next council meeting later this month along with a bylaw to approve the budget. A final budget has not yet been passed.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.