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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

2019 Operating Budget passed in principle

by Adam Gault

Essex Council held a special meeting Monday evening to review and approve, in principle, the 2019 Operating Budget.

Looking at a total revenue of nearly $52 million, many residents wonder about the various revenues and expenses that make up the many sectors of the annual municipal budget, and how they fit into the future of municipal services and the general maintenance of the Town of Essex.

Relying on several different revenue sources to fund operating and capital activities, the majority of the budget is supported by property taxation, which will make up 36.1 percent of the total budget revenue, followed by User Fees and Charges at 24.2 percent, and Reserve Funds at 22.9 percent.

Grants will make up 11.8 percent of the budget, and various development charges and various license fees make up the roughly remaining 5 percent.

Several modifications, however, will have to be made to the budget before it can be fully approved, as there is currently a net deficit of $280,880. As municipalities are not allowed to budget for a surplus or deficit, there must be a reduction of expenses or an increase in revenue before moving forward.

“Providing a fiscally responsible budget, while still maintaining desired levels of services, is always a challenge, particularly when provincial funding sources for 2019 are not yet confirmed,” CAO Donna Hunter said. “A balanced budget was attained for 2019 through efficiencies in operations and a slight increase in property taxes.”

This is in reference to the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), which is normally announced by the provincial government in December, allowing municipalities time to incorporate it into their upcoming annual budgets.

Although no amount has been announced at this time, the Town of Essex has been made aware that they may be looking at a 20 percent reduction ($846,240) compared to last year’s allowance.

Looking in part to balance that deficit, the Town of Essex is looking at a 2 percent tax increase, to bring in an additional $291,516.

With the average home in Essex valued at $237,000, the average annual property tax for Essex residents would be $2,210 annually.

Breaking down how each property tax dollar will be utilized, 59.1 percent will go to the municipality, 30.2 percent will go to the County, and 10.8 percent will be allocated the local public school boards.

The addition of new municipal personnel will have an increase of $482,739 on the Town’s bottom line.

This includes not only the new council seat, Facility Maintenance Tech, and Environmental Services positions, which were approved under last year’s budget, but also the addition of three new positions, including a Drainage Superintendent, Deputy Chief Building Official, a Bylaw Compliance Officer, a junior human resources position, and a Climate Change Coordinator.

The Climate Change Coordinator in question, will have 80 percent of their salary paid by grants for the next two years.

The 2019 capital budget will be reviewed and explored in a Council meeting on February 25.

A full breakdown of the 2019 Essex municipal budget can be found online at

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