County heading for 3.85 per cent tax hike
By Chad Ingram
Councillors on Haliburton County’s finance and correspondence committee are recommending the municipality contribute an extra $280,000 to reserves in 2016, which would result in a 3.85 per cent tax rate increase at the upper tier level.
Committee members discussed the draft budget during a Jan. 13 meeting.
A report from the treasury department has indicated the county would be able to function with a 1.85 per cent increase for 2016, levying $14,345,000. However, councillors have expressed concern about the level of county reserves.
“I don’t really feel our reserves are healthy right now,” Highlands East Deputy-reeve Suzanne Partridge said at Wednesday’s meeting.
Reserves are sitting at approximately $3 million heading into 2016 and will be drawn upon again this year.
Some auditors suggest that for a municipality’s reserves to be healthy, they should amount to approximately half of its yearly tax levy.
During a December meeting, councillors requested that scenarios be drawn up, showing what various reserve contributions would look like.
Each percentage increase is the equivalent of $140,000 in county coffers. So a total tax rate increase of 2.85 per cent would contribute $140,000 to reserves, 3.85 per cent $280,000 to reserves and 4.85 per cent $420,000 to reserves.
Councillors settled on the 3.85 per cent option as reasonable.
“The percentage always appears to be worse than the dollar value,” said Algonquin Highlands Reeve and County Warden Carol Moffatt. “If your house is worth $300,000, it’s less than $20 [in increased taxation].”
Pointing to neighbouring municipalities, Moffatt also said the county had a “more than reasonable” level of taxation.
“It’s a crazy balancing act that is really tough,” she said.
In 2015, for every $100,000 of assessment on residential properties, Haliburton County residents paid $177.85 of tax to the county, $263.70 for every $100,000 of assessment for commercial properties.
The option the committee is recommending would mean that for every $100,000 of assessment on residential properties, residents would pay $184.68. The amount for commercial properties would increase to $273.83 for every $100,000 of assessment.
A draft budget will be presented at the next meeting.