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Funds not allocated in community grants may go to municipal reserve fund

If approved by council later this month, funds not allocated in this round of Community Grants funding will be set aside for a rainy day in another municipal account.

Councillor Janice Maynard set the idea in motion after hearing a balance of $65,745 remained in the Grants Over $5,000 program.

“I would like to see the unspent funds be directed to the tax rate stabilization reserve… There’s always going to be some sort of emergency, or something will come up, like drought; we always have something come up during the year and I think that is a good place to put the money.”

Council was reviewing a report on grants over and under $5,000 listing applicants and their requests, as put together by The Community Foundation, appointed last year by the municipality to administer the program.

The report notes requests for funding were lower than last year, stating it may be due in part to other funding sources publicly available around the same time. In-kind allocations were also down from last year, partially due, the report said, to the recent council decision to make Community Centre kitchen space available for groups fighting food insecurity, which resulted in approximately $7,300 of requested in-kind support not needing to be funded.

In total, $166,200 is being recommended in cash grants, and $5,200 for in-kind grants. This year saw nine cash requests and two in-kind requests for use of municipal facilities.

There is also $20,000 remaining in the newly-approved funds for food insecurity programs. Councillor Kate McNaughton was unsuccessful in her bid to move another $10,000 from the un-allocated funds into the food insecurity grants coffers.

Council had approved a budget for 2019 grants over $5,000 of $237,145, plus the funds earmarked for food insecurity programs. The amount recommended for funding in 2019 is $171,400.

For municipal grants under $5,000, a total of $9,291 was approved in cash allocations along with $33,341 for in-kind grants. This year saw five cash requests, and 13 in-kind requests for facilities, or waiving of municipal fees.

Council had approved a budget for the 2019 Community Grants Under $5,000 of $13,086 for cash awards and $29,570 for in-kind for a total of $42,656. Total amount awarded was $42,742.

Should council approve the transfer of $65,745 in funds not allocated, at the March 26 meeting,  there will not be a second open call for applicants as planned for next month.

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  1. Emily says:

    So million dollar farms just north of Picton shift a portion of their taxes to residential! The County CAO has cautioned Council going down this slippery slope, to no avail.

  2. James says:

    Chris Keen — as always, “with respect”. You did not say “yearly” – just the vibe I got – all my doing.

    Now onward: Argyle perhaps has put a finger on the problem with the type of representation we have, but boy, there was a keenness at election time to replace the old guard with a fresh council that would bring new ideas and deal with our tax woes. That should have been stated as dealing with farmers’ tax woes at the expense of others.

    With regard to taxation without representation, I have a query into Todd Smith’s office to direct where one would find an answer whether it is legal to place another person’s taxes on people not in that taxation class.

  3. Chris Keen says:

    James – with respect. You’ll note I did not say “per year”.

  4. Argyle says:

    You can blame councils make up, most of the seats are occupied by council members who represent rural wards……..the small urban areas are simply out numbered when voting occurs even though they may represent a larger number of taxpayers……this is just another reason why council needs to be down sized…..

  5. james says:

    Chris Keen – I must respectfully disagree with your outline of costs for rural homeowners. After a well is drilled/dug and a septic system is installed, then costs are not tens of thousands of dollars on a repetitive “yearly” basis. There are repair costs (if necessary) and purchases of water during droughts, but when we purchased our farm many years ago, we checked on well-flow/quality before purchasing (due diligence). And when we increased livestock that drained the well, we then put in a storage system (think it might be called a cistern) that depended on barn runoff that solved the problem. Our expenses were maintaining the well and septic system – definitely not repeatedly tens of thousands of dollars on a yearly basis, and yes, repairs were write-off costs. Therefore, an established farm “could” afford to support homeowners paying our massive municipal water taxes/rates – just semantics – as the money still comes out of one’s pocket.
    I am not even sure that putting others’ taxes on someone else’s bill is even legal. I believe The Boston Tea Party was about taxation without representation – the principal still exists. I am researching this issue, and maybe Queen’s Park needs to be questioned. When I farmed, I did not expect non-rural homeowners to pay my bills. If I could not make a living, my option was to rent the property to a farmer, or to sell. Some of our County farmers are moaning and begging while they hope to make profits from covering farmland with turbines, solar panels, advertising billboards. If you cannot run a prosperous business, then get out of farming.

  6. Susan says:

    We now have non residential billionaire farm land owners getting tax relief on the backs of residential in Prince Edward. How is that fair?

  7. Mark says:

    No freeze, a portion of farmers taxes have been shifted for residential to pay for. And residential continue to pay for the new and young farmers grant program.

  8. Brody says:

    I might ask the opposite question. How could the County justify the reverse – increasing farmers’ taxes 40% over the last 3 years. The action taken this year just freezes that increase where it is. It does not shift anything.

  9. Chuck says:

    How can our County government justify a tax shift from wealthy farmers to residential, many of which cannot pay the largest water bill in Ontario. Seems like a direct opposite direction from affordable housing.

  10. Michelle says:

    It must be kept in mind that all rural residents advantage by having a hub Town with most all life services. To access those services on the backs of a small population that can no longer afford the water/wastewater rates is unfair. I would be very surprised under our electorate system if this issue would get due process.

  11. james says:

    A number of us agree that Council moving farm taxes to other rate payers is ill-advised. However, now that Council has made that move even while ignoring recommendations of its staff, how do we go about getting Council to implement fair treatment across all tax payers? Some posters to this site also outline other service costs that should be shared.

    I used to own a farm and am well aware of expenses in operating an own well and septic system, but currently while using municipal water would appreciate assistance.

    Now that Council has set a precedent with sharing taxes, how do we go about organising a campaign? For the purposes of forming a group to approach Council, I will post my own information.

  12. Fred says:

    Council has now opened themselves up to any group of residents that would request a shift and sharing of costs. Some are in dire straits and need the sharing, particularly water/wastewater costs. The farmers however were not hurting, in fact Council moved a portion of their taxes to residential while farmers increased their asset wealth. County staff warned Council of this dangerous precedent, to no avail.

  13. Gary Mooney says:

    James, you make a good point. Now that Council has set a precedent by its ill-advised shift of municipal taxes from farmers (some wealthy) to residential taxpayers, what about others who are in a difficult position and may request help?

    For instance, as you suggest, people forced to pay very high water and wastewater bills. Why not request a shift some of that cost to homeowners not on town water?

    How about commercial tenants being impacted by greatly increased lease rates asking for municipal tax relief from residential taxpayers?

    How about rural residents requesting a lower tax rate because they are remote from the many services located in Picton and Wellington?

    How about residents of Ameliasburgh, Picton, Bloomfield and Wellington asking for a lower tax rate because they don’t make much use of the 1100 km of County roads?

  14. Chris Keen says:

    James – many County Live readers believe Council should NOT have adjusted the tax ratio. This is a slippery slope the results of which I suspect Council will be dealing with for years. When waterfront property values increased Council made no such adjustment. Farmers have the option to appeal the increase in assessment – some chose to and were successful. The point is, their property values increased, which is a good thing. Their taxes are a business expense – yours and mine are not.

    Rural homeowners must pay the costs of putting in, and maintaining, a well and a septic system themselves – tens of thousands of dollars. Many rural wells run dry in the course of the year and bulk water must be purchased. To ask this group of property owners to share in the costs of providing water/sewage services is not reasonable.

    What Council should be doing is banding together with other small municipalities dealing with the same issue and lobbying the Ontario government for funds to help with the costs of running an unaffordable system that meets Provincial standards. In the meantime it should be implementing an STA tax immediately, and perhaps using our share of those funds to offset water rates. (They are rates, not taxes.)

  15. Mark says:

    You make a very strong and reasonable proposal.

  16. james says:

    — Sharing Farm Taxes —

    Don’t know if this comment belongs here.

    However, since Council has now agreed to lessen pressure on farm-land tax bills through sharing, it would seem only fair also to lessen large tax bills for municipal water.

    I don’t know how to prepare a presentation to outline this for Council, but if someone out there does know, then maybe we could all assist. I would be willing to work on a campaign, lobbying Council, enlisting media, and so on.

    People on septic and wells do not pay the exorbitant water rates, whereas people paying municipal water rates will definitely appreciate some assistance which would help those with low earnings and on fixed incomes who are struggling, some even being forced to abandon their County properties.

    Could it be that developers will commence building homes when they are able to indicate assisted water rates?

    Perhaps rather than a policy of “divide and conquer”, we could function as a united community and “help each other”. With acceptance of sharing taxes for MPAC-boosted farm values, our Council has indicated agreement for sharing our tax burdens, and indicates it is open to sharing the heavy tax burden for water services within the community.

    To me this appears that many of us will win in our dire tax situation. Farmers are assisted; those on high water rates receive relief, and the Council is viewed by all taxpayers as honestly being a positive force keeping down tax rates for all.

    Let us all band together and all pull together.

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