By David F. Rooney
Residential taxes are set to rise by 2.5 per cent and business taxes by one per cent under the new municipal budget, which was swiftly and quietly passed Tuesday afternoon.
Under the 2012-2016 Financial Plan utility rates are to increase by 8.42 per cent, light industry and seasonal business taxes will go up by two per cent and heavy industry gets an immense 16.04 per cent decrease in taxes.
Under the plan, “a house assessed at $350,000 in 2011 ($317,373 in 2012) would pay approximately $31 more in tax in 2012. A business assessed at $350,000 in 2011 ($355,845 in 2012) will pay approximately $65 more in tax in 2012. Class 4 Major Industry will see a reduction in taxes of about $45,000.”
While last year’s budget was generally regarded as one Councillors had to hold their nose to pass, they generally seemed to regard this one as a decent effort.
Even Councillor Tony Scarcella who generally makes no secret of his general unhappiness with the direction of budget discussions said that while he didn’t much like this one either, it was “a step in the right direction.” He also voted in favour of it — something he didn’t do last year.
Councillor Phil Welock agreed with Scarcella.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel but due to our failing infrastructure, the tunnel is getting longer,” he said, adding that the City needs more reserves.
Councillor Chris Johnson said he wished there had been more discussion this year about ways to spend less.
“I don’t mean layoffs, but there’s been no discussion of this,” he complained.
And Steve Bender who, as chairman of Council’s Finance Committee, was responsible for shepherding the budget through the approval process, said “this may seem a little suicidal to say but I think the (tax) increase is too low.
Councillor Gary Starling was pleased with the input from the Focus group and said he was willing to support this year’s budget.