North Perth passes cautious 2021 budget with 2 per cent levy increase

·4 min read

NORTH PERTH – The 2021 North Perth budget was tabled for council approval on March 1.

Through the 2021 budget process, members of council and staff worked to find a balanced position between the need to support important municipal services, invest in current and future infrastructure and asset needs, while limiting tax increases.

Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, council kept in the need to limit increased financial obligations on ratepayers.

Council began the 2021 budgeting process with a policy statement and pre-budget public survey, followed by a visioning session. The visioning session allowed each member of council to outline their concerns and priorities for the 2021 budget. Council also requested that senior management perform a review of municipal services and proposed capital projects to address staff capacity issues and identify spending efficiencies.

In 2021, the province is providing the municipality with $1,445,300 in funding through the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), which is equivalent to $254 per household. The OMPF revenue was distributed amongst the municipal department operating budgets.

OMPF is the primary funding source provided by the province to municipalities.

For services funded by tax dollars raised by the municipality, the operating expenses for 2021 are budgeted at $15,779,645.00.

Other operational budgets totalling $12,029,825.90 are solely funded by user fees. These include child care services, building department, water services, wastewater services, waste management and Perth Meadows.

As part of the Asset Management Financing Strategy approved by council, $242,000 per year is included in the annual operating budget. This should close the funding gap by 2048.

Introduced in 2018, the Stormwater Management Area Rate is an area-rated levy to provide for future stormwater management services in the built-up area of Listowel, including some of the fringe development. The levy for 2021 is estimated at $245,000 and is shared amongst the properties within the SMAR boundary.

The Business Improvement Area levy of $119,300 is also area-rated to commercial properties in a limited boundary.

The 2021 capital budget includes multiple carryover projects from 2020. Some significant carryover projects include the Albert Avenue storm trunk drain project, the traffic study transportation master plan, Line 84 reconstruction, Listowel Memorial Arena demolition and redevelopment, John Bell South and John Bell North light tower replacement, replacement of fire apparatuses and IT governance and modernization.

Some new projects planned for 2021 include hydraulic re-rating of the wastewater treatment plant, water meter replacement program with installation to occur in 2022, Atwood servicing upgrades, Elma Memorial Community Centre heating, ventilation, and air conditioning updates, and equipment purchases.

The overall project cost estimate for 2021 is just over $19.7 million. Carryover project costs represent $6,394,747.00, or 32 per cent of the overall amount. The ongoing project work is being funded by development charges revenues, reserve funds, the tax levy, donations and provincial and federal grant funding.

Maintaining and improving North Perth’s municipal infrastructure will continue to require significant and planned investment.

The North Perth Building Department had a busy year in 2020, issuing 420 building permits, which included the creation of 241 new residential dwelling units. This increased tax base allows the costs related to growth to be applied across a greater number of properties.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MPAC postponed the 2020 property reassessment that would have reassessed properties based on a valuation date of Jan. 1, 2019, with reassessments applied and used in budgeting through the 2021-2024 period.

The North Perth 2021 tax levy increase is $465,791.99 for local municipal purposes. A total property tax bill reflects taxes levied by the Municipality of North Perth, the County of Perth and local school boards. Specifically, for every residential tax dollar received in 2021, approximately 61 cents is kept by North Perth, 21 cents will be transferred to Perth County and 18 cents will be transferred to local school boards. When all three 2021 levy requisitions are combined, the overall levy increase in North Perth is 2 per cent. Due to assessment shifts, the residential levy impact is about 1.2 per cent.

“This budget addresses operational and infrastructure needs to maintain anticipated municipal service levels required by our community while managing past provincial revenue cutbacks in OMPF funding,” said Budget Chair Dave Johnston. “Members of council will be closely monitoring the 2021 financial statements to ensure that the municipality is sustaining the desired levels of services while moving forward with current development to ensure growth and prosperity during 2021.

“On behalf of Coun. Allan Rothwell, vice-chair, and myself, I thank members of council, our staff and the public for participating in developing the future of North Perth via the 2021 budget deliberations.”

Council passed the budget unanimously as tabled.

“I have to admit I read about these budget discussions and debates that happen in other communities and it just seems like at times things are a bit wild,” said Mayor Todd Kasenberg. “It seems like we have a very civil and efficient process that brings us to reasonable decisions… so congratulations to everybody.”

Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner