'Asset management' behind Tiny's 11% municipal tax increase

If it seems like the tax bills in Tiny Township are higher this year, there’s a justified reason for that, according to the township.

During a recent special committee of the whole meeting, Tiny council spent a day tweaking, cutting, and adjusting municipal expenditures in an effort to prepare for the longevity of the township and its residents by increasing funding for asset management.

What resulted was council tentatively approving a pre-blended, tax-rate increase of 10.77 percent, which prompted Deputy Mayor Sean Miskimins to ask what it meant for the average homeowner to finance director/treasurer Haley Leblond.

“(If council) decided to go with the 10.77 percent increase,” explained Leblond, “that would be on the average residential home – at $350,000 – an increase to their tax bill of $124. So for every $100,000 in estimated value, that’s a $35.43 increase. Just to confirm, that’s the municipal portion.”

However, the municipal portion of the tax rate is different on the tax bill which the rate payers see, due to additional calculations from the blended rate of two other sources: the Simcoe County tax rate which was confirmed this week at a 3.5 per cent tax increase; and the provincial education tax rate which Leblond stated would remain unchanged from its 2022 amount.

Through on-screen calculations, Leblond showed council the real-time amount of a 5.96 percent blended tax-rate increase for Tiny residents.

Mayor Dave Evans was the first to share his thoughts on the final numbers, offering general approval for their weight.

“I’m quite comfortable with this, I really am,” said Evans. “We’ve taken some things out that are fairly substantial and we’ve deferred them; at the same time, I think we’ve been very responsible fiscally and in terms of running the township.

“We were elected to make this township better and make sure that it survives. We’re dealing with 6.8 percent inflation, a huge insurance increase of over 14 percent, and these costs have to be addressed.”

The primary driver for council’s decisions involved a provincially-mandated asset management plan which the municipality began to implement following a presentation in December by PSD Citywide, for which Tiny was especially praised in its proactive initiatives.

From that presentation, it was shown to the new term of council that Tiny had been contributing only $3.7 million to its asset upkeep, a drastic underfunding for an annual $12 million recommendation.

With that in mind, many of the budget decisions for council revolved around strengthening its long-term projects and supporting its staff.

Cost of living adjustments (COLA) were approved at a 2.5 per cent increase with many on council citing retain and retention as the incentive. The township received a 15 per cent increase of external revenue on its annual OCIF (Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund) grant, contributing to the nearly $8 million capital funding source amount.

Big net tax cost items approved included $275,000 for a snowplow purchase and $115,000 for a replacement truck, and phase 3 of waterfront delineation at $150,000. Council approved positions for a committee coordinator, asset management coordinator, recreation administration coordinator, and an IT operations specialist.

In that special committee of the whole meeting, the tentative approval of the draft budget meant that council would be further exploring the matter at a meeting later this month where it could be ratified.

On noting the Simcoe County council budget meeting at the end of January, Evans came back to council with renewed confidence that the township’s budget was well-constructed.

“I’m hardened with the fact that tentatively approved augmenting our asset management program, and in 2024 looking forward to putting together a 10-year strategic plan,” said Evans, “where we can definitely deal with capital moving forward and the use of debentures to offset and minimize the ups and downs of tax increases and inflation on the community.”

The full draft 2023 budget overview, including detailed summaries and a complete breakdown of figures, can be found on the agenda through the township website.

Updated information on the proceedings can be located on the Tiny Township budget web page.

Archives of council meetings are available to view on Tiny Township’s YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca