Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Less than 1% Increase

At Monday’s Regular Meeting, Council approved the Town’s 2011 Operating Budget.

What does that mean for your pocket book?

Well, the average residential property value for 2011 is expected to be $272,000. If your home and property were assessed at that value, you would be paying an additional $11 or a total of $1,258 on the Pelham portion of your property tax bill. This accounts for an increase of 0.88% for the average residential property in Pelham.

Why such a small increase when other Cities and Towns contemplate a 5%, 6%, or 12% rise?

Town Staff reviewed the budget line by line and ensured it was tight as possible while fulfilling Council’s policies and goals. During the transition period for a new Council, for example, Staff compared previous budgets to actual spending and found more ways to trim the 2011 Budget.

What are some of the highlights for 2011?

The Town will invest in better communication with you and your neighbours. Staff will reduce the reliance on “snail mail” by offering billings by email, by increasing the use of electronic funds transfers, and by using a phone notification system. In addition, the Town will continue with the new procurement system following a highly successful six-month purchase order pilot project.

To help manage the Community Improvement Plan grants and loans, the new Heritage Committee responsibilities, and the completion of the East Fonthill Secondary Plan and Official Plan, and to provide better customer / resident service, the Town will be hiring an additional planner.

Recreation & Community Services will expand services and programs including new fitness programs in camp and swimming for children 9-13 and additional programs for adults.

Based on a service review and cost analysis, instead of contracting-out mowing, Town Staff will cut the grass again in Town parks and other key areas.

In partnership with the Region and to become a more environmentally friendly community, the Town will offer recycling in all parks and recreational facilities – like the arena. It is expected that this new service will begin by Canada Day.

To put the 2011 Budget into perspective, this is by far the lowest increase in the last eight years – the period for which I have reliable data. And, from what I am hearing across the Niagara, Pelham will likely be the lowest increase again this year.

If you would like additional information about the 2011 operating budget, please visit the Town’s website at www.pelham.ca.