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Development charges increase 1.6%

By Ross Lees
Despite reluctance on the part of some councillors on Prince Edward County council, development charges were increased by 1.6 per cent Friday, March 11 for the next year.
Some at Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting said now is not a good time to increase development charges – especially when the industry itself is in decline.
Susan Turnbull, Commissioner of Corporate Services and Finances, upon hearing that a motion to defer the increase was being proposed, said deferral of the increase would overturn the bylaw and set council on a costly and lengthy process of reinstating the bylaw, even if somewhat amended.
While some councillors felt development charges were causing builders and contractors to look elsewhere to build because the initial costs were just too high in the County, Turnbull said the increases were necessary and that they did not over price development in the County when compared to its neighbours.
Councillor Kevin Gale, in making the argument to defer the charges, noted, “I realize we were 10 years too late to bring in development charges, but I believe we’re pricing ourselves out of business. I believe we have to look at how we can right the course.”
Councillor Terry Shortt also weighed in on the charges.
“It’s unfortunate that building is starting to decline, but these development charges will help the tax revenue in the long run. I would like to see a study which compares us to our two neighbouring municipalities.”
Turnbull said there was nothing wrong with  preparing a report discussing options and comparing County rates to immediate neighbours like Quinte West, Belleville and Napanee but that the increased rates would be put into effect the next day (March 11).
“Our development charges have been set for the needs in this municipality and we were actually more than 10 years behind in implementing them,” Turnbull said, noting the municipality was beginning to benefit from draws from reserves built up since 2008 when the development charges were first implemented.
“People in other municipalities are always calling us asking us what we are doing,” she said, noting they have noticed Prince Edward County is making the tough fiscal policy decisions.
Mayor Peter Mertens agreed a report on the subject of development charges was important, even though Turnbull had pointed out there was no review of the policy due until a five-year period had passed.
“There is a reality in the market place right now which we must consider,” Mertens said. “It is important that we get a report back from you (Turnbull) which explains what we can do.”
Mertens felt there was a “push back” on development charges across the province at the present time and he wondered if high initial charges reducing building starts didn’t affect everyone.
“I wonder if it doesn’t cause a situation where we don’t have a healthy construction industry and therefore we don’t get anything. Let’s face it, if they don’t build, we don’t get anything.”
Councillor Dianne O’Brien wondered why there was any debate about this issue.
“We struggled with this when we implemented them (development charges) and I don’t believe we should be changing our minds,” she said. “We should live with our decision.”
Councillor Janice Maynard concurred.
“We appear to be fixing something that isn’t broken,” she said.
When put to a vote, a motion was passed which directed staff to supply legal options and ramifications and report back to council. Turnbull felt that could be complete for the next committee of the whole meeting later in the month.

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  1. Doris Lane says:

    Apparently Quinte West did not increase development fees like PEC did.
    It is true that building has decreased in the county and partly because of the fees charged to builders for various permits etc
    One builder had an article in one of the papers awhile back stating that he did not wish to build in PEC because it was too costly.

    We need the money from new development and I think Mayor Mertens and several councillors are correct in asking for a review of this situation

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