Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why a 2.6% property tax increase?

At our February 16th Regular Meeting, Council approved the Town’s 2010 Operating Budget.

What does that mean for your pocket book?

Well, the average residential property value for 2010 is expected to be $260,000. If your home and property were assessed at that value, you would be paying an additional $31 or a total of $1,247 on the Pelham portion of your property bill. This accounts for an increase of 2.6% for the average residential property in Pelham.

What are the reasons for this increase?

Well, first there are a number of uncontrollable cost escalations facing the Town’s operations. For example, while insurance premiums were stable last year, this year they will increase by 7%. Similarly, the cost of employee benefits did not increase at all last year; this year the same benefits package will increase by 7%.

In addition, last year Council made staffing changes. We made the fire prevention officer full time, and hired a full-time bylaw officer and an assistant recreation manager. These employees were budgeted to start part way through the year; we now have to annualize their wages. And, effective March 2010, we hired an IT person – to integrate our systems with technology and to help find more efficiencies.

Council also accepted the Treasurer’s suggested decreases in some of the Town’s revenues. For instance, over the last number of years, the Town has consistently over-budgeted on revenues from new developments; the 2010 budget fixes that assumption.

And, you might find it interesting that nearly half (or 1.2%) of the 2.6% increase this year is to take care of unfunded capital expenses from 2004. You see, in 2004 the Town spent 411,230 on fire fighting equipment; but, it wasn’t actually debentured (mortgaged) as was planned. Instead, the debt appeared on subsequent financial statements as to be paid by “future revenue.” Last year, Council decided to deal with the debt, and established a five year repayment plan. As a result, the 2010 operating budget includes an additional $103,000 to deal with this debt. Interestingly, if we didn’t have pay for this unfunded debt, the budget would have increased at the projected rate of inflation for 2010 (or 1.4%).

To put the 2010 increase into perspective, the previous Council increased the Pelham portion of your property taxes by 14.8% in 2004, 16.1% in 2005, and 5.6% in 2006. This Council increased your property taxes by 4.7% in 2007, 4.8% in 2008, 1.8% in 2009, and now 2.6% in 2010.

Rest assured that this Council acts prudently with your money.

If you would like additional information about the 2010 operating budget, please visit the Town’s website at