TBM sets budget with 2.45% local tax increase

The Town of The Blue Mountains has a preliminary budget for 2023.

The Blue Mountains council held all-day budget committee of the whole sessions on Feb. 1, 2 and 3 to pore over the details of the proposed budget and set the priorities for the town for the coming year.

At the end of the process, council tentatively approved a budget that includes a 2.45 per cent increase to the local portion of the tax levy. This combined with Grey County’s 1.48 per cent increase and the school board at zero per cent represents a 1.64 per cent increase to the total tax bill.

A home in The Blue Mountains assessed at the average value of $555,840 will pay $52 more in local taxes and $31 more in county taxes.

“Budgets are always tough to do. I really want to thank everybody,” said Deputy Mayor Peter Bordingnon, who chaired the three budget meetings. The deputy mayor noted that council was able to achieve 2.45 per cent without cutting services.

The proposed budget will now go to a public meeting for local residents and taxpayers to comment. That meeting will be held on March 7. Formal approval of the budget by council will come after that date.

“This is just really the beginning. The public will get their say,” said Mayor Andrea Matrosovs, who said the three-day budget marathon was a valuable experience for everybody. “It helped us get acquainted, as well as members of the public.”

Matrosovs also thanked staff for their diligence and preparation during the process.

“You did it in as accessible a way as possible,” said the mayor.

In the first draft of the budget, council initially faced a local tax increase of 8.28 per cent. Council made two significant changes to reduce that number. First, council decided to limit the increase to the tax levy for asset management/capital projects to three per cent over the amount collected in 2022. Council also decided to bring $400,000 from the working capital reserve into budget as current-year revenue. The town’s plan is to replenish that reserve by selling surplus land during the course of the year.

As part of the budget process, council also passed a resolution requesting that town staff investigate the possibility of the town implementing a municipal accommodation tax and a vacant home tax with an eye towards having them (if adopted by council) ready to be implemented by the beginning of 2024.

A municipal accommodation tax is a fee levied on short-term and overnight accommodations and is paid by visitors at the time they book a room. A vacant home tax would be applied to homes not used at primary residences by their owners.

Bordignon made it clear the town would be investigating the feasibility of the two new taxes, but that nothing had been decided.

“I don’t want to panic people. This is just a report,” he said.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca