Brant homeowners have been handed a 4.73 per cent tax increase for 2013.
County councillors gave final approval to the municipality’s 2013 budget during a meeting in Paris on Tuesday night. The approved increase is equal to an additional $111.66 in taxes on a home assessed at $271,215, the average value of a home in the county.
County of Brant Mayor Ron Eddy said the increase is high, but the county’s tax rate remains lower than surrounding municipalities.
“It will be a great concern to many of our taxpayers – there is no doubt,” Eddy said. “But we have to recognize that we have a lower tax rate than adjacent municipalities and as a result we are not able to proceed with our infrastructure projects as needed.”
The county’s total budget for 2013 is just over $87.4 million. Councillors set the 2013 operating budget at just over $66.9 million and 2013 capital budget at just over $20.5 million.
As part of the tax increase, councillors approved a capital surcharge that will amount to an additional $650,000 in revenue, which will be used to tackle future infrastructure projects. Without the capital surcharge, the 2013 residential tax rate increase would have been 3.04 per cent.
Coun. Robert Chambers said he supports the 4.73 per cent increase.
“It is a good budget because it holds increased expenditures to less than one per cent,” Chambers said. “If you take into consideration the investment component and surcharge component, which will be paid back in future years, that leaves a one per cent increase.”
Chambers said about two per cent of the tax increase represents investment in the county’s business parks to accelerate economic development. The approved capital surcharge will help the municipality cover the cost of public works infrastructure projects.
“If we don’t fix the potholes today, we will have to reconstruct the road tomorrow.” Chambers said. “My preference is to do things today that will save money in the future.”
Coun. John Wheat said he supported the capital surcharge to help fund infrastructure improvements.
“We better start laying the foundation to build on, rather than correcting our mistakes,” Wheat said. “We’re here to make the tough decisions for the County of Brant and we better get doing it.”