top of page
  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex hosts 2022 Budget walk-through that proposes 1.8 percent tax increase

by Sylene Argent

On Monday evening, Essex Council spent over three-and-a-half hours in a special 2022 Budget Walk-Through meeting to discuss funding, reserves, asset management, and possible projects in all Town of Essex departments.

  As part of the discussions, it was noted the 2022 Budget was created with a 1.8 percent proposed tax increase. When going through the proposed budget, Council could see the details of how that proposed increase could affect the budget.

  The overall increase for Wards 1 and 4 will be 1.91 percent, and a 2.16 percent for Wards 2 and 3.

  The average homeowner could expect to see an increase of $51.78.

  During a special meeting held in September, Council directed Administration to start preparing the 2022 Budget with a 1.5 to 2.5 percent tax increase. The range was to allow Council to see what projects or services could be included and later make a decision on the final figure.

  Kate Giurissevich, Director of Corporate Services/Treasurer, presented the Town of Essex 2022 Draft Operating and Capital Budget during the meeting, in addition to the proposed tax increase.  

  CAO Doug Sweet was pleased to present the document as it not only reflects service efforts, designed to achieve Council’s strategic priorities, but also aligns the financing approach intended to strengthen the Town’s financial condition, address infrastructure needs, and improve services residents access regularly.    

  “With values rooted in fiscal responsibility, sound management principles, and community engagement, Administration continues to focus on ensuring the Town of Essex has efficient and effective systems in place to support responsible growth,” Sweet added. “The financial decisions we make today are critical for our community’s long-term sustainability.”

  When developing the document, staff’s recommendations were guided by Council’s six strategic values.

  The impact of the pandemic, he said, led to facilitating numerous service delivery adaptations and modernizations to support continued service delivery to the community, including new technologies to facilitate operations, governance, leadership, and information sharing with Council members, staff, and the community, Sweet added.

  Giurissevich noted Essex has the lowest assessment for property tax base out of all the lower-tier municipalities in the County of Essex. It also has the lowest total revenues from property tax as it has the lowest assessment base.

  Because of the pandemic, Giurissevich said the Town of Essex has had drastic increases in costs across the organization. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for September, she added, was at 4.4 percent. She suspects the 2022 tax increase will fall below the CPI increase for 2022.

  In addition, Giurissevich noted the MPAC assessed value cycle that was to be released in 2021 is to be postponed to the end of 2023 at a minimum. She will keep Council informed when she hears of any news on this file.

  She added the year-over-year growth, as a result of construction experienced in Essex for new residential, industrial, and commercial, is estimated to contribute an additional $370,000 of revenue from property taxation. The Town received very good details from MPAC on its ending assessment role. She said the Town is noticing a total increase on the assessment base of two-percent.

  “There is definitely significant growth occurring and set to occur in the Town within 2022,” Giurissevich said, adding the Town’s Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund increased by $69,000 to $4,058,000 in 2022 from 2021. This was due to an increase in the rural farm credit.

  She explained the total Operating Revenue for 2022 is 47,137,471, which is up from $44,653,183 in 2021. This appears to be a six-percent increase. Giurissevich noted two-percent of that increase is due to growth, the 1.8 percent increase in the tax rate, and an increase in development charges collected. Operating Expenses was also increased six-percent. In looking at that, the Town is actually sitting closer to a two-percent increase, not necessarily the six-percent.

  When it comes to property taxation, Giurissevich said the Town is expecting an increase of $441,000; attributed to the mill rate increase of 1.8 percent, the taxation growth of $370,000, and a budgetary adjustment that was required.

  In looking at the Operating Expenses, Giurissevich said contracted services experienced an increase of $473,378. Part of this is because crushing services are offered every other year, and it will take place in 2022.

  In addition, there could be an increase to the OPP Contract of around $150,000. Council will consider adding a Traffic Enforcement Officer for $200,000 per year. There was also $39,000 in savings in the benefits plan due to retirements. The Harrow Streetscape debt will be debentured in early 2022 and has an estimated payment of $200,000. The LED streetlight conversion will also be a long-term capital debt project, with an operating impact of $100,000 annually.

  Giurissevich said the Town’s insurance agent relayed an increase of 15-20 percent should be anticipated.

  The Harrow and Essex Community Improvement Plans will expire at the end of this year.

  “We are showing a surplus at the end of 2022 of $243,811. This amount has been used to fund new projects in our Capital Budget,” Giurissevich said.

  Proposed in the budget are four fulltime positions being presented for Council discussion – a Deputy Chief Building Official (fully user-rate supported), Assistant Manager of Legal and Licensing, and two previously approved contract positions for an asset management specialist and financial analyst, in addition to three part-time positions. Total wages from 2021-2022 changes from $11,563,629 to $11,924,294, for an increase of $360,664. Of which, $122,178 was the annual negotiated increase.

  At the December 13 meeting, Sweet said he will ask Council to consider a formal resolution to support fees be waived for sports usage at the Harrow Soccer Complex in hopes to attract future usage. He said it would typically take in $500-$600 a year in revenue over the past five-years.

  Giurissevich noted the Capital Budget includes $32M in projects. This figure includes a conservative amount used for carry-forwards. If the Harrow and Essex Centre Streetscape projects and the carry-forwards are taken out of the budget, there is actually $7.6M in projects in 2021, compared to $10M in 2022.

  Capital projects can be funded through the Asset Management Reserve, grant funding, other reserves, or Development Charges Reserves, depending if projects are new, need upgrading, or need to be replaced. Giurissevich went through what Council should be planning as far as asset management.

  Director of Infrastructure, Kevin Girard, said as far as the Streetscape Budget, the first goal is to finish the Harrow-based project. New for 2022, the Essex Centre Streetscape is being added. It includes some storm sewer work, sidewalk replacement, lighting, landscaping, etc., and includes rehabilitation to Victoria Avenue to replace asphalt and minor drainage improvements for $1.2, of which Council previously passed.

  In total, $8.9M is being requested for the Essex Centre Streetscape.

  Giurissevich went through each department, highlighting possible projects to be included in the 2022 Budget. In Fire, there is over $32,000 proposed for protective gear and $15,000 in hoses.

As part of the Fire Master Plan, Fire Chief Rick Arnel said the 70’ and 95’ aerial trucks, both 25-years old, will need to be replaced. The idea is to purchase an aerial platform between 80’ and 100’, which will be located at Station #2. This project cost will be $1.5M.

  He also highlighted equipment that needs to be replaced, and would like to add an all-service rescue boat and equipment for the ice water rescue team for $9,400. They would also like to replace the assistant deputy chief vehicle for $55,000. It has almost 235,000km on it.

  As for Parks and Facilities, Jake Morassut, Manager of Parks and Facilities, spoke on some of the proposed items, such as adding shaded areas at the Harrow dugout #5 for $15,000, additional funds for the 2021 item – the Harrow Splashpad washrooms – that came over budget last year, replace soccer goal nets, Heritage Gardens Park washrooms for $300,000 – of which $50,000 will be funded through the Rotary Club of Essex and $100,00 through the Essex Centre BIA, two replacement pick-up trucks, and the replacement of skate parks which have reached end-of-life at $50,000 for each location.

  Budget items also include: $60,000 for the Harrow High School cost assessments, $27,000 for the Harbour ramp retaining wall, fence replacement around Gay “Sid” Memorial diamond for $50,000 and replacement of the around 30-year-old lights there for $325,700, $50,000 for parks and equipment replacement and contingency, and $20,000 for shade at Townsview Park.

  The Town is looking to relocate the pavilion at Sadler’s Park, which is estimated to cost $75,000 as it is deteriorating. Rotary is looking at providing some funding for that project. Other projects include replacing the rubber floor at Essex Arena for $48,000, and $80,000 to replace the compressor water tower at the arena, and $203,000 for catch basins at the Harrow Arena parking lot.

  Also in the budget is over $600,000 for HVAC, light, and roof replacement at the Essex Recreation Complex, which is cost-shared with the School Board.  

  Councillor Sherry Bondy wanted to ensure there was enough in the Budget for advance polls in each Ward for next year’s municipal election, in addition to ensuring there is enough staffing. Town Clerk, Robert Auger, said the Town is anticipating additional staff and bringing on an Election Coordinator earlier than previously done. There was also $160,000 for paving of parking lot “B” at the Colchester Harbour.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek and Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche had concerns about paving the parking lot, Verbeek having concern with paving so close to the water and Meloche noting the funds could be used on other things, as the paving will not add additional spaces.

  Verbeek also wanted to see more funding invested in McGregor. When she looked through the proposed budget the first time, she said she was a little disheartened. Sweet said they will be working on a Co-An Park Master Plan, which will address many of the concerns she voiced.

  There is currently $240,000 in reserve for a splashpad in McGregor. Mayor Larry Snively said he would rather see that $160,000 set aside to pave that parking lot to go towards a splashpad in McGregor. He said McGregor is growing and the other Wards in Essex have one.

  Giurissevich said Amherstburg has agreed to undertake a Master Plan for Co-An Park. To be financially responsible, the Master Plan needs to be followed to ensure the cost-sharing of 50/50 with Amherstburg is followed.

   Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said he was pleased with the proposed 2022 Budget. He was a bit perplexed on a few items, like Meloche, about paving the parking lot in Colchester. He suggested instead of shade structures, to plant quickly-growing trees. He added he has never seen anyone using the skate park, and wondered if there was a usage gage to determine how they are utilized.

  Morassut said he sees the one in Essex Centre is used a lot, and the Town does have to maintain them. Bondy added the one in Harrow is used daily and is really busy.

  Under the Development Services department, a new Official Plan was added for $110,000. The current plan is only intended to guide development to the end of this year. Economic Development Officer, Nelson Silveira, spoke of the business retention and expansion strategy, which adds $55,000 to the budget to hire a consultant to look at challenges and opportunities businesses throughout the municipality face. He also spoke of $25,000 for Agritourism implementation. There could be a grant available for a portion of this.

  In the Infrastructure Services department, items included $220,000 for a CAT Backhoe, $75,000 for road widener, $140,000 for a five-ton dump unit, and $35,000 for a wing mower.

  In regards to roads, Girard spoke of how the Town maintains its roads. Included in the 2022 Budget are: the Irwin Avenue reconstruction for $120,000 to complete a detailed design, for between Arthur Avenue and Gosfield Townline. $575,000 for 5th Concession rehabilitation, between Smith Road and County Road 11. $240,000 for Bell Road rehabilitation, between Gore Road and County Road 50. $725,000 for North Malden Road rehabilitation, between County Road 15 and Walker Sideroad. $60,000 for Victoria Street, from County Road 50 to Oxley Beach Drive.

  There is also $55,000 earmarked for a roads condition assessment to re-scan all Town-owned roads to rate throughways.

Councillor Bondy would still like a roads plan to be created to help Council communicate to the community why certain roads are done and when others are projected to get worked upon.   

  Girard also spoke of stormwater management projects. User-rate funded projects were also discussed.

  Council members are now expected to review the draft document, forward any questions they may have to Administration prior to the first budget deliberation meeting, which will take place December 13.  At that time, Council members can also suggest changes.  

  Council received the report. 

bottom of page