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Essex’s Administration presents tentative 2020 budget


by Adam Gault

Members of Essex’s administration staff and Councillors reps held a public presentation at the Harrow Arena on Monday evening, which provided an overview of the tentative 2020 Operating Budget and the 4 Year Forecast for the municipality.

With a total revenue of $61.5 million for both operating and capital in the 2020 budget, Councillors and residents were presented with a breakdown of the revenues and operating costs that encompass the many facets of the municipal budget, and their potential impact on services and development for the Town.

In this potential budget, Administration has presented a balanced budget plan, along with a zero percent change to the Municipality’s Mill Rate (property tax), as had been asked by Council in preparation of the document this past September.

Although the Municipality’s Mill Rate is likely to remain unchanged, this does not guarantee that a property owner will not see an increase in property taxation.

To assist in providing an extra level of property tax stability across the province, the Ontario government has introduced a “phase-in” program for market increases and decreases.

If a property is assessed at a higher value, an increase would be introduced gradually over a four-year period, while conversely, a decrease in value is introduced immediately.

This four-year period is known as an “Assessment Cycle,” and the increase is expected to provide the municipality with an additional $230,000 in revenue through property taxes in the 2020 budget.

With the average home in the Town of Essex assessed at $179,000, the average annual property tax rate for residents would be $1,644.

Chris Nepszy, Essex’s CAO, explained that it is incredibly important for residents to know how their property tax dollars are spent, with nearly 59 percent being used directly by the town. The remainder goes to Essex County and school boards.

For every $100 the Town of Essex collects, 58.8 percent goes to the municipality, 30.9 percent goes to the County of Essex, and 10.3 percent goes to the school boards.

To break down the percentage of that $100 further and how it relates to the Town itself, 15.6 percent is utilized for general infrastructure purposes, 13.8 percent for community services, 10.9 percent for fire services, 6.2 percent towards policing, 4 percent for the Office of the CAO, 2.7 percent for Developmental Services, 2.6 percent to Corporate Services, 2 percent for Council, and 1 percent for other/miscellaneous purposes.

“You are running a $60 million company,” Nepszy said, addressing Councillors. “It’s a balancing act. All those wants and needs, they all have impacts.”

To this point, Nepszy added that although Council’s decision to waive Harrow’s development fees for the next two years is a great incentive for developers, the estimated $200,000 of waived fees will need to made up for in tax revenue for the Town.

However, as the budget is currently presented, the Town will be left with a $705,527 operating surplus for 2020 if implemented in its current unamended form. This will be discussed further at a scheduled Council meeting early in the new year.

A full overview of the 2020 Essex Municipal Budget can be found online at essex.ca

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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