Taxes in Leeds and Thousand Islands township are down 3.81 per cent this year for property owners whose assessments remain stable for 2011.
At its meeting on Monday, council passed the final budget of $13,933,856, down $5 million from 2010. The township used $2.5 million dollars from reserve funds to help obtain the decrease in the tax rate.
The total amount of taxes collected in the township is up by $185,000 this year.
Mayor Bruce Bryan, who ran an election campaign with a goal to reduce taxes, is pleased with the final result.
“I’m very proud,” the mayor said. “It was very hard as we had a lot of unexpected costs we didn’t foresee, but the taxpayers deserve every effort to see their tax dollars used properly.”
The budget includes increases in sand and salt supplies, a new budget for the fire training centre, an increase in the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority levy, an increase in planning consultants, an increase in administration building maintenance and an increase in library spending.
Decreases were in the bylaw enforcement contract, building department expenditures, roads spending except gravel costs, and parks and recreation operating costs.
Two other factors, which helped reduce the tax increase, were an increase in the Ontario Municipal Partnership Funding to $96,000, and a credit for its 2010 policing costs of $73,884, which helped reduce the impact of the policing cost increase.
“It wasn’t easy,” Bryan said of achieving a budget that sees a small increase. “There were cuts basically everywhere…. If it didn’t have to be done this year, it wasn’t.”
The 2011 budget also includes the costs of finishing drainage work in Lyndhurst and completing the capital work for the fire training centre. Funding to cover two-thirds was received for both of those projects, with the remaining third of the cost to be covered by the township.
“It is a good number,” Bryan said of the budget. “We will try and do better next year when we have a better grasp on things.”
The mayor said he hopes people are happy with what council was able to do with this budget and that people notice the details.
A resident with a home worth $100,000 who have not had a change in their assessment for 2011 will see a $12 decrease on their tax bill. However, most taxpayers will see taxes rise more due to assessment increases.
“We have duties under the law and to the public,” said Mayor Bryan. “We can try and regulate increases, but as someone once said to me, a budget is a living and growing thing and it has a tendency to change.”
Councillor Wendy Merkley was happy with the budget that was presented.
“I’m pleased to get so many things aligned,” she said.
“All we can do is prioritize and economize,” said Bryan.