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Average County residential tax bill to rise $120

Prince Edward County will levy municipal taxes of $26.4 million in 2012, an increase of 7.7% over 2011. The hike means a tax increase of 5.2 per cent. For the average residential household assessed at $240,000 in 2012, the municipal tax bill will increase by about $120.

Council calls the $58.7 million budget a step toward fiscal sustainability while maintaining service levels. Council used funds from a $1 million surplus in 2011 to cut $500,000 from the budget and add $500,000 to reserves. The operational budget is set at $51.9 million and the capital budget is $6.8 million.

“This is a fiscally responsible budget that begins a positive and incremental transition toward
sustainability,” said Mayor Peter Mertens. “By building reserves for future equipment and
infrastructure needs, we can avoid large, one-time tax increases in the future. We have a great deal of work still to do but the momentum is there, and I believe that Council, staff and the public are ready to make the changes necessary for the financial health and prosperity of the municipality.”

Despite lower operating costs, the tax levy increased over 2011 by $2.7 million. The increase is attributed to:
• reinstating unsustainable reductions made in the 2011 budget – $1.1 million
• establishing annual funding for Fire Department equipment replacement – $600,000
• establishing annual funding for ongoing road maintenance and construction – $750,000
• external agencies’ budget increases (police services, library services, land ambulance, MPAC, Quinte Conservation and the Health Unit) – $460,000

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  1. Doris Lane says:

    Good message Mark–you are right on
    My last message got cut off prematurely when I hit the submit button before I finished
    Even Harper is cutting staff in many departments
    This is a small community and we do not need multiple people
    to handle a department like tax collector.
    I can only hope that the economic development department is put to sleep.

  2. Mark says:

    Which department is to cut staff? I don’t know and I don’t believe Council knows either. I know one thing and that is no department is going to voluntarily offer up positions. Most all corporations (of which we are) undertake staffing reviews during tough economic times and make necessary adjustments to coincide with the downturn. Typically this would be done by the CAO under the direction of the Mayor who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO)and Council but since there seems to be no appetite for this at the top then an independent staffing review is the best route. An example of some positions that jump off the page for any reviewer are;

    1. You have a Commissioner of Corporate Servies who oversees finances. This is supplemented by a Treasurer and a Deputy Treasurer. 3 highly paid bean counters
    2. A Clerk and a Deputy Clerk
    3. A Tax Collector and a Deputy Tax Collector
    4. An Accounts Payable Clerk and a Public Works Accounts Payable
    5.A Public Works Admin position and a Public Works Receptionist
    6. Four (4) Roads Supervisors

    Continue through the entire organization, position by position:

    A Reviewer would look for critical need of positions, efficencies, realignment of services, reassigned duties and responsibilities, duplication of services and make recommendations on how savings could be achieved.

    To undertake a budget process like they have and pass on significant tax increases to the citizens while ignoring the most expensive tag item which is staff and benefits is to not have done due diligence.

  3. Doris Lane says:

    It should not be “staff” ( I am tired of hearing that word)
    who makes the decision about what our tax rate should be. “staff” were not elected to run the County the council was. True there are too many managers in all the departments who sit behind a desk and push papers around.
    I know an independent audit would cost money but in the long run maybe it would save money if we separated the wheat from the chaff.
    As I mentioned before we need to outsource some work like tree cutting–I saw 5 men and 3 trucks at a site cutting down a little sappling tree. I know a little about cutting trees as we have some of our local experts cut down very difficult trees in tricky positions with just one man on the ladder and another on the ground.
    As Gary says a lot of people in the County do not have extra money. I was talking to a lady outside GT this morning and she said it was $20 to hire a taxi to go to Demorestville and the another $20 to return. They have no stores inSophiasburgh

  4. Gary Mooney says:

    Re comments that suggest that an increase in municipal taxes of 5% this year is no big deal. That may be true for most people, but not for some on a modest fixed income. And over time, 5% annual increases in taxes when cost inflation is increasing at only 2% becomes a bigger deal for many. Over 10 years, 5% annual increases in taxes would accumulate to an increase of 63%, while 2% annual increases in salary or invested assets would accumulate to an increase of only 22%, resulting in a significant erosion of disposable income.

    A comment was made that implies that municipal staff living in the County are motivated to keep municipal cost and tax increases down because they have to pay taxes here as well. What is more likely is that staff members are focused on keeping their jobs and getting promoted, both of which are much more significant to them than any increase in their municipal taxes. In fact, staff could benefit from local acceptance of greater tax increases to pay for larger salary increases.

    .

  5. Marnie says:

    How can the county cut staff? For starters, Beth,its top heavy in administration. Look at all the managers required to run parks and rec. Do we really need all of these people? I doubt it. Until amalgamation, the county ran far more efficiently with not nearly as much staff. Some services that once were contracted out now have their own county departments – more staff. People can be cynical sometimes but there have been too many reports of county employees leaning on shovels for it to be just gossip and sour grapes. Do our county employees need offices that occupy a floor of The Edward building? A cheaper alternative could have been found. Remember the good old days when the town of Picton was run from a small house turned office at the corner of Main and King and Shire Hall housed our municipal staff? County clerk Tom Walker must have done the work of ten men, based on the number of staff now needed to replace him. Is the county better run today because of its big staff of managers and assistants? If high taxes, big debt and free spending are any indication, I would say the answer is no.

    None of this is the fault of the people hired by the county. They cannot be blamed for taking plum jobs. It’s council that needs to give its head a shake and look at ways to help us live within our means.

    Yes,the councillors who voted fot various fee increases must pay them too, but at least they had a choice in whether or not to support them. The average ratepayer is stuck with their decisions.

    Yes, some of us want to keep our libraries but the savings in closing them would have been nothing in comparison with the ridiculous cost of the Wellington arena or building a teen clubhouse at the fairgrounds.

  6. Beth says:

    Which department is supposed to cut staff? Many people keep calling for an independent staffing review, that too takes money (and a lot of it) that needs to be budgeted and included in the years expenditures.
    And for the record, no I don’t work for the County, just an everyday citizen of our fair community, who works, raises kids and pays taxes.The one thing that is being forgotten is that the councillors are tax payers too. Guess what, they have to pay the extra amount too!

    I will have negative comments bounced back at me by some commentators on this site, cool! But the reality is more money was needed because guess what, one of those services the county pays for are the libraries. We all remember the up roar a few weeks back when it was proposed some of the libraries close. Funny thing, oh yeah, it costs more to run those buildings too and maybe, just maybe, it might be nice to get some new books in them.

  7. Richard Parks says:

    @ Doris.
    You ran for council last time, so I am sure you know the
    answer to your question. Police, Fire Dept., Ambulance, Roads/Bridges and Sidewalks, Libraries, Townhalls,
    Fairgrounds/Crystal Palace,Soccer Fields, Arenas,Ball Fields, Parks, Cemetaries, Grant Money to Hospitals. It is a much longer list than that.
    We can argue about how efficiently The County is being managed, but can you argue that the items I mentioned aren’t important to, or not used by the majority of us?
    Broken down, the “average” home owner will pay $2.31 more per week in taxes.

  8. Doris Lane says:

    I wonder what all these services are that everyone talks about. I pay a lot of money for water and sewer,I pay for garbage and hydro which has nothing to do with the county.
    I just can’t think of anything the County gives me for my taxes??? Oh maybe it was for the snowplow to clean the streets this winter when there was no snow on them or for a large street cleaner truck to go by at 4:30 in the morning when there was no debris on the streets.

  9. Marnie says:

    No, Beth, nobody likes it, but it might be acceptable if it were not for the fact that we have all watched council spending as if there were no tomorrow. They blew a bundle on the Wellington arena and a lot of other things with no thought for the taxpayer. They refuse to consider cutting staff or reducing their own numbers. Nobody is looking for a free ride, but I’m tired of paying through the nose while watching our elected representatives spend, spend, spend. We all know that prices rise but if council does not stop blowing money on all the frills the time will come when an increasing number of people will be forced to say goodbye to the county and move elsewhere.

  10. Beth says:

    I just find it immensely amusing how people expect the same or an increased level of services for the same or less money when base expenses from source providers has increased. I am talking about basic costs, you know heating, electricity, fuel, paper…… all these costs have increased and have to be carried because the municipality has no control over these costs. You can talk about outsourcing and how none of us have a lot of money for the additional taxes, but the reality is things just cost more.

    Do you pay more to heat your home than you did 2-3 years ago, guess what the county pays more to keep the municipal buildings warm too.

    Did I want my taxes to go up, no, however I do enjoy the services provided to me and I do not want to see things cancelled. Unfortunately that means that the money needs to come from somewhere. The taxes were going to have to go up, we all knew it, and no you don’t have to like it.

  11. Ken Globe says:

    No, I don’t support the places that fly the Mohawk Warrior flag, and I do believe in paying my taxes, and keeping my business local.

  12. David Norman says:

    LOL- how pseudo Canadian

  13. virginia says:

    LOL –how predictable

  14. David Norman says:

    Damn Ken! Don’t do that… I was going to get you to pick me up a bag of “pseudo American” cigarettes on the way.

  15. Ken Globe says:

    wow, $10 a month… I guess I can cancel that shopping trip to Napanee…

  16. Doris Lane says:

    NO MATTER WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING WITH THE COUNCIL WHERE IS THAT INDEPENDENT STAFFING REVIEW==LETS HAVE IT NOW==NOT NEXT YEAR RIGHT NOW

  17. Mark says:

    It sounds like only responsible home owners can live with the mismanagement of our tax dollars. The rest of us that are unresponsible can just live with it. It would be a smaller pill to swallow if Council had done their work and conducted an independent staffing review. They have no idea at present if the biggest expense incurred which is staff and benefits is what the municipality requires. They just will not tackle the system as it is easier to pass on huge tax increases way beyond the cost of living to the peasants.

  18. Marnie says:

    How lovely that you have so much money that the proposed tax increase is modest in your view. Be assured that for many living on fixed incomes it is a matter of concern. Bag tag fees have increased, dump fees have gone up and now taxes are rising. This is just too much “responsibility” for some of us to stomach without comment.

  19. virginia says:

    As a responsible home owner, I am happy to pay a modest increase to retain quality of life and services for all, no matter what their incomes, or personal circumstances.
    As a proud Canadian, I believe these are some of the things that make us who we are—-not pseudo Americans.

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