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Council finalizes 2022 budget with help to attract doctors, utility relief for those in need, road work, housing and grants

Prince Edward County’s 2022 operating budget will result in an estimated increase of $33.07 on an average assessment of $100,000.

Council approved the 2022 tax-supported operating budget of $67.0 million today. This year’s capital budget of $18.6 million was adopted by council in December.

“The 2022 operating budget supports the delivery of a wide range of programs and services. Throughout the budget process, members of council and staff did their utmost to balance the priorities of our community while at the same time addressing areas of significant concern such as the physician shortage and road rehabilitation,” said Mayor Steve Ferguson.

The municipal operating budget includes a 5.52 per cent tax increase (or 3.81 per cent after assessment growth). Assessment growth is the sum of all changes that happen to the tax base during a year, including new construction, major renovations, demolitions, and property value appeals.

Council also passed a budget for water and wastewater services of $10.4 million. Increased charges approved last November for water and wastewater use in spring and summer months, went into effect Jan. 1.

Council allocated $150,000 in 2022 to support physician recruitment to improve Prince Edward County’s competitive position to attract family doctors.

During deliberations, council received advice from the Physician Recruitment and Retention Working Group and the Prince Edward Family Health Team (PEFHT) on attracting five new physicians to Prince Edward County over the next five years. The County would offer a $100,000 incentive to physicians, which would be paid out over five years in return for a minimum of five years of service. An additional $50,000 would go to the PEFHT as part of an agreement to support recruiting and marketing efforts.

Council also approved a pilot program to support low-income households in Prince Edward County to apply to one of two streams of the Municipal Financial Relief Program – including qualifying tenants who pay for water and wastewater services for a credit of up to $250 on their water bill or a credit of up to $500 on their property tax account.

The County Foundation will administer the pilot program on behalf of the municipality. Funds from the program will come from unspent community grant money in the 2021 municipal operating budget. Intake for the program is expected to open May 15, 2022.

Additional Budget Highlights
– $843,824 transferred to the reserve to fund road work in future years, with $220,000 of that total coming from higher than expected Municipal Accommodation Tax revenue.
– $200,000 in additional funding for the maintenance of gravel (loose top) roads.
– $412,000 toward the redevelopment of Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital in 2022, the latest installment of the $4.5 million pledge the municipality made in 2018.
– $150,000 to support the operations of the Prince Edward County Affordable Housing Corporation.
– $243,169 in total for the three streams of the Municipal Community Grants Program administered by The County Foundation ($189,716 for grants over $5,000; $38,453 for in-kind grants; and, $15,000 for grants under $5,000)

The final budget documents are to be posted on the County website next week.

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  1. Sam Lanfranco says:

    Let me get my head around the idea that rural folk should assist the County’s urban folk with their water and sewage costs. My grounding in economics, and my farm wells and septic system maintenance costs, are leaving me confused.

    Did someone argue that we simple rural folk benefit from urban shops and services using water and sewage to sell us things at prices that factor in their water and sewage costs, so we should pay twice, once there and once again with a contributory water and sewage levy? I guess I miss the logic here, but I am big on equity so if that idea gets any traction (and it shouldn’t) I would like to propose an additional feature.

    Every liter of water I take from my well, any water I buy during a drought, and every liter of waste that goes into my septic system are of immense value to the County’s urban folk. I free up urban water and septic capacity for them, and do so at my personal cost. I am willing, at my expense, to put meters on my well and septic system, and be compensated by payments, funds raised by a supplemental urban water and sewage tax, based on the benefits urban folk get from me not using their water or septic system capacities.

    For the skeptics here I would be happy to see both ideas relegated to the dust bin. I will continue to make my contribution to urban water and sewage costs at one of the County’s finer urban drinking establishments.

  2. Chuck says:

    Urban water users pay wastewater fees for all water regardless if it doesn’t go back to the wastewater plant. Watering your garden, emptying a hot tub in your yard, washing a car etc.

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    If towns’ people want to charge for washroom services, then go after the tourists. I’m sure they would use “town washrooms” far more than anyone from rural PEC. But if the situation has come to the point of charging residents for toilet service, then our community is truly in financial trouble. If this is the case then a total change in PEC finances and politics has to take place – NOW! I think the only time I would use a town washroom is when I go to either a restaurant or to the movies – both I pay for.

  4. Bruce Nicholson says:

    Adding wastewater fees to bulk water purchases would be a mistake. The bulk water purchased for home consumption and pools does not go through the water treatment plant.
    Not sure that the price for bulk water is not charged out at a premium to the water rate charged to urban users.

  5. Chuck says:

    The most obvious is washroom services. Also Bulk water which is pretty cheap needs to be increased and include wastewater fees the same as urban users.

  6. Bruce Nicholson says:

    Chuck. Please provide some examples of how rural residents utilization of urban water adds to the stress on the urban system. I want to understand your position. Thank you.

  7. Dennis Fox says:

    I know of no rural resident who places a strain on the urban water supply – why and how could they – by running a hose from Picton to Demorestville? This will need to be proved before that argument gets any traction.

    At times people just have to accept what they asked for – an improved water and sewer system they wanted and that is what they got and now have to pay for. So just what is the complaint?

  8. Chuck says:

    I think the one thing that is being missed is that urban ratepayers are not using or putting stress on a private rural system. Rural ratepayers do use urban water systems and thus added stress on the infrastructure. There lies the difference.

  9. Dennis Fox says:

    The idea of people paying for services that others have and they don’t, is an odd one indeed.

    Let’s go back a few years and recollect on what took place – – for years the water bills in the county stayed unchanged (and they shouldn’t have), but people voted for those who would not raise their water bill and it was like that for years. Then the sewage plant fiasco – the urban people didn’t want any more costs, so the planning of that took years longer due to the urban opposition. The cost grew during that time from approximately $11Million to over $30Million!!

    This should be paid by those who by those who created the problem and use that service. It was not rural people – we had no say in the matter. However, at the time this was passed by Council, Mayor Leo Finnigan made it very clear – this will be paid by those who use the water and sewer and not by those in the rural areas.

  10. angela says:

    Ridiculous to expect rural property owners who already have paid for their wells and septic systems and now maintain them to provide relief to townies with their water bills. Does this mean that the next time I need a new pump for my well I can expect town residents to share the cost? If I develop a very costly problem with my septic system will I be subsidized?

  11. Emily says:

    If we want urban areas in order to access multiple services that we all enjoy and desire icluding rural folks then I agree that some consideration towards all contributing to the infrastructure is reasonable and probably well over due.

  12. Vic Alyea says:

    Right on Dennis! I too am a rural homeowner. My well is located over a thousand feet from my house. That means I had to excavate and place a waterline and a powerlines underground from my well to my home. A well alone is around $8000 for an average depth a well driller told me a couple of years ago. The trenching and power and water lines are also thousands to install. I’m also on a septic tank and tile bed which today would again cost me thousands to replace.If something goes wrong with either system its on my dime to repair or replace. I greatly object to subsidizing taxpayers on communal/urban water and sewage systems. Nobody wrote me a cheque for my water and sewage systems nor do I expect it.

  13. Dennis Fox says:

    Back in the day, Council very wisely decided that those who need water and sewer should be the ones paying for it. I live in a rural area and had to have a well drilled, and have a very expensive filtration and purifying system installed, which requires ongoing maintenance. I paid for it all and never expected to have the taxpayer pick up my bill for me.

    BTW can anyone tell me what our combined tax increase is? Both the operating and capital increases have been separately announced, but with a new assessment coming – what will our raise in taxes be? Government has made it complicated for taxpayers to keep track.

  14. Gary says:

    The tax base should be assisting with all municipal water and wastewater systems. Everyone benefits from the growth.

  15. Fred says:

    Some good points Julia👆🏽👍
    Should we consider a huge property tax credit for county residents who actually live in their house, have children in county schools, work in county businesses, buy County products, etc? And offset that with a huge tax levy on STAs and recreational properties that do not reinvest heavily in county staples and assets

  16. Jeff says:

    Enough is enough. Every year we have the same outcome of a large tax increase on average 3 to 5 percent this is beyond crazy. Go back to the basics of roads and garbage management and leave the other issues to provincial and federal governments who have more revenue streams then a small tax base.

    The above issue of water and wastewater costs was downloaded to be a user pay system now we are allowing our tax dollars to help pay for it. Just wondering who in the municipality or what councillor I contact to get my house water system or septic tank pumped, because if I am helping out the residents of municipal systems with their bills they certainly can help out with rural residents who are low income as well.

  17. Julia says:

    Crazy budget for a population of 25k. Not all are adults either. PEC is becoming more and more expensive and unattainable for most. High water rates in Canada, taxes increases averaging 5 % a year. Highest child poverty rate in the SE. And we talk about affordable housing. No one can afford the taxes or water never mind the housing. Soon there will be no one to serve your latte or work at the new Starbucks. Enjoy your tourists, locals are not happy about living here any more. And no one’s listening.

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