Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Average 2.47% for Pelham’s Property Tax Increase

As the first installment for our property taxes approaches (February 29), I offer you more information about the Town’s budget.

At our February 6 meeting, Pelham Council approved the operating budget and an average 2.47% increase on the Pelham portion of your 2012 residential property tax bill.

What does that mean for your pocket book?

Well, the average residential property value for 2012 is expected to be $284,566. If MPAC assessed your home and property at that value, you will pay an additional $31 or a total of approximately $1,289 on the Pelham portion of your property tax bill.

Why such a small increase when other Cities and Towns contemplate a 4%, 5%, or 9% rise?

Local media recently bestowed a “thorn” on some nearby communities for the way in which they announce a huge tax increase – like 9.75% – only to “whittle” it down later to 4% or 5%.

We don’t do that in Pelham; instead we give guidance to staff – maintain the base budget, work diligently and creatively to find efficiencies, review and trim all expenditures throughout the year – and they present that type of budget to Council.

What are some of the 2012 operating budget highlights?

The Town will further invest in better communications and the use of technology. Staff will continue to reduce the reliance on “snail mail” and offer billings by email, use web-based tools for procurement, and increase the use of electronic funds transfers for venders and residents.

The Town will also expand the success of Summerfest into a multi-day event (July 19 to 22), add camp and swimming services, refresh and improve staff’s customer service skills, and enhance some bylaw services.

Staff will review and monitor our grass cutting and snow clearing services; we hope to find the right mix between the level of service and whether Town staff or contractors should best provide these amenities.

We are also faced with a few uncontrollable increases. These include increased costs for employee benefits, WSIB Excess Indemnity Insurance costs, and annualized costs of last year’s new hires (planner, fixed asset accountant, and procurement coordinator).

To put the 2012 Budget into perspective, this is another low increase by a fiscally responsible Town and Council. And, from what I am hearing across the Niagara, Pelham will likely be the lowest or among the lowest increases again this year.

I will write more about your total property tax impact after Regional Council approves the 2012 rates and ratios later this spring.