CORNWALL – Barring any last minute changes before the next council meeting, the SDG Counties property tax levy will increase by 3.72 per cent. Counties councillors deliberated the 2023 budget at a special council meeting February 15.
The residential property tax rate increase will add an extra $21.99 for every $100,000 in assessment value to your tax bill.
“Council has agreed on a budget that allows us to continue to offer important services and complete much-needed infrastructure projects while respecting the inflationary pressures that are impacting spending habits in homes throughout our region, “ said SDG Counties Warden Tony Fraser. He acknowledged many municipalities are dealing with tax increases that residents find “unpalatable.”
“Council agrees that the 2023 budget is both prudent and respectful of taxpayer concerns.”
Sixteen per cent of tax revenue for the Counties will come from South Dundas-based assessment, which is the third-lowest of the six municipalities that make up SDG.
Residential properties make up 58 per cent of the assessment, but account for 74 per cent of tax revenue. Total taxation in 2023 is $55.1 million, a $2.8 million increase from 2022.
Transportation accounts for 52 per cent of the total Counties budget. The budget has over $17.5 million in capital projects set for 2023, which accounts for 24.7 per cent of total spending by the United Counties. Most of those capital projects involved road resurfacing, culvert replacement, and bridge repair. Two major bridge projects are on-tap for 2023: a $2.45 million rehabilitation of the South Nation River bridge on County Road 43 near Chesterville; and a $1.8 million rehabilitation of the Martintown bridge on County Road 18.
Over six kilometres of County Road 1 in three sections from the Irena Road intersection west, then north to Hanesville, and the western section of County Road 18 from Glen Stewart west to the Leeds-Grenville county line in South Dundas will be resurfaced during the 2023 construction season. In all, 77.9 kilometres of road is slated for resurfacing or microsurface treatment.
The transportation department will also spend $15,000 on a geo-technical study of several Seaway-era dikes along County Road 2 to assess any risks. Five thousand has been budgeted for drainage improvements tied to the Morrisburg roundabout and street-scape project. A sun-glare study for the intersection of County Roads 43 and 7 south of Chesterville will also take place in 2023, costing $5,000.
Over $1.2 million in new equipment will be bought in 2023 including a new tandem snowplow, three half-ton pickup trucks, one three-quarter ton pickup truck, two one-ton dump chassis, a street sweeper, an all-terrain vehicle, and four disc mowers. Provincial funding received in 2022 will pay for the street sweeper, which will be used by various lower-tier municipalities in SDG.
Policing costs through the Counties’ contract with the Ontario Provincial Police will cost $9.9 million in 2023, a decrease of $200,000 from the previous year. Council agreed to fund $120,000 to the OPP for the Mobile Response Crisis Unit program.
Other council donations include $15,000 for the St. Lawrence River Institute (up $5,000 from 2022), $25,000 for the Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network, $3,000 each for the six county fairs normally funded (funding doubled this year), and $1,000 to be used at Council’s discretion.
“SDG Counties staff have spent considerable time over the last few months, setting priorities and charting a course through some turbulent financial waters,” said CAO Maureen Adams. “Inflation is the number one challenge we faced in presenting to council a budget that builds on the programming and services that residents in our region have come to expect and enjoy.”
Council is expected to vote on the 2023 final budget at its March 20 meeting.
Editor’s note – This story has been corrected to reflect the additional funding for the six county fairs, which was originally reported as $1,500 each.