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Point Edward taxes up a whopping 5.9%

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Cathy Dobson

Mayor Bev Hand.

Point Edward’s Mayor Bev Hand says council made some “Herculean” decisions before approving an unprecedented 5.95% tax hike this week.

“It was going to be 9.1% but I said we had to do something about that. We just couldn’t pass that,” said Hand.

Moving money from two reserves made it possible to bring the tax rate down, she said.

“It’s still high but what people need to understand is the driver that put us here. Every community is facing issues created by the pandemic and we are no different.”

In particular, Hand said the village lost millions of dollars of casino revenue and is dealing with “double digit” increases in insurance, as well as high inflation. The cost of policing is up and utilities cost more.

“Every time we turn around, it’s costing us more money,” said Hand. “It’s a tough situation and it’s going to be like this for at least another year.”

Over the past three years, the village lost about $4.5 million in anticipated casino revenue because of the pandemic.

Drawing from reserves is only a stop-gap and cannot be sustained every year, she noted.

“So council needs to find more revenue sources and will be investigating that.”

Among the possibilities for raising more revenue and offsetting future tax rate increases, are:

• introducing fees for baseball diamond use for the first time; and

• introducing new fines for infractions such as property standards.

The 2023 operating budget, which totals $4.9 million, does not include any increases in arena fees but that will be considered next year, the mayor said.

Council is hopeful that large developments will go ahead this year and generate additional tax dollars that will help reduce the reliance on reserves in coming years.

For 2023, a house assessed at $150,000 will pay $1,061 for the municipal portion of the tax bill, up $60 from 2022.

Council also approved a water rate increase of 4.5%. That means a homeowner using 10 cubic metres of water per month will see a$5.35 increase in their monthly bill this year.

“I felt we did the best we could and still remain responsible about it,” Hand said.

Casino revenues are improving post-pandemic but it will take several years to overcome the setbacks of the pandemic, she said.

Point Edward’s capital budget in 2023 was set at $8.5 million. Among approved projects are:

• $6 million for reconstruction of St. Clair and Lite streets;

• $126,150 for an upgrade in the arena hot water system;

• $100,000 toward the truck reserve for Point Edward Fire and Rescue; and

• $253,000 into a reserve for new playground equipment in Waterfront Park.

Property tax bills blend municipal, county and education spending increases and are impacted by tax ratio changes from the County of Lambton.

Point Edward tax bills are mailed in early June while water bills are sent monthly by Bluewater Power.




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