Sunday, February 21, 2016

Pelham's 2016 Operating Budget Approved

Council recently approved the Town’s 2016 Operating Budget. The new budget translates into an increase of approximately 7.86% (or $107.44) on the Pelham portion of your property tax bill for the average residential property (assessed at $309,200).

Since Pelham’s portion of your property taxes represents roughly 37% of your overall residential tax, we anticipate the average “blended” increase – including the Regional and Provincial portions – to be around 2.9%.

In preparing for the operating budget, Council directed Staff to review all expenditures against customer service needs and the Town’s strategic plan.

The overall budget increased by $792,873 (net). The major increases over 2015 include:
A $269,830 transfer to the capital reserves to help enhance and maintain our excellent infrastructure and build on the $175,979 that we added to capital reserves last year;
$79,629 for increased maintenance and $49,731 for increased utility costs for Town facilities;
$11,007 to increase the Pelham Public Library grant to fund the Library’s cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) and to double the hours of the renewed Maple Acre Library branch – from 14 to 28 hours per week – starting in November.
$250,786 for Staff wage and benefit increases. This includes a 1.3% COLA increase, performance management compensation, and required benefits increases (of approximately 10%).
And $416,984 for additional principal and interest payments. (See below for more details.)
These net to an increase of $792,873 because of the benefits of new assessment growth ($184,469) and of other expected revenue increases ($100,625).

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, Council earmarked $37 million in the Town’s 2016 Capital Budget toward constructing a potential Community Centre. We did this because we are getting close to a final draft design and so that we might be “shovel ready” for potential investments from upper-levels of government.

So that we might be further ready, Council now earmarked operating funds for principal and interest payments that would allow the Town to purchase at least a $5 million, “re-payable,” 30-year debenture from Infrastructure Ontario (at an estimated rate of 3.48%). Council would only approve this debt if we proceed with a proposed Community Centre; if we do not proceed in 2016, the funds will accumulate in a special reserve.

Draft Designs Soon: On a final note, the Architect and Construction Manager anticipate that they can present draft designs, including elevations and more accurate construction cost estimates, by March 21. Council wants to understand your thoughts and feelings on the proposed design and financing of a potential Community Centre in late-March and early-April before we make further determinations. We look forward to that informed discussion!

For more information about Pelham’s Operating Budget, please click here.