The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry has approved, in principle, its 2021 budget, which may result in a tax savings for many residents this year.
Counties Council, at its February 17 meeting, put the finishing touches to the budget which calls for a 0.74% tax rate decrease. The residential tax rate decrease in SDG translates into a $2.77 annual savings on an average bill. Much of the cost savings this year were driven by 2020 surpluses that were moved into reserves to offset 2021 expenditures.
Councillors were adamant during their deliberations that easing financial pressures on SDG ratepayers, who are also grappling with the burden of COVID-19, must be a priority.
“This is a responsible budget that speaks to our commitment to ratepayers in SDG,” said Warden Frank Prevost. “Counties Council is focused on making sound fiscal decisions that lay a solid foundation for economic growth, while also acknowledging the reality of the pandemic and its impact on our region.”
“Staff are aware of external pressures created by the pandemic,” said Counties CAO Tim Simpson. “We have a responsibility to ensure our residents continue to have access to the services we provide, while at the same time acknowledging the desire to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on the bottom line for ratepayers.”
Prior to budget deliberations Counties Council approved more than $7 million in reserve transactions – moving surplus funds from 2020 into reserves to be used for 2021 projects. Many different line items make up these transactions, including the roads resurfacing reserve ($1.5 million), roads project reserve ($1.258 million) and the bridge reserve ($973,000) to name a few.
“Reserves are a financial management tool that is part of a sound fiscal plan to address long-term objectives and provide budget stability,” said Financial Services Director Rebecca Russell. “This is evident in 2021, as the Counties aims to maintain service levels while collecting less money from taxpayers.”
Counties Council is expected to formally approve the budget at its regular meeting in March.
- In 2021, an average SDG residential property’s assessment is $221,633, increasing 0.53% from 2020 at $220,459.
- 2021 Counties taxation totals $50,690,910; an increase of $33,065, from 2020.
- The largest Counties road project is the Morrisburg roundabout/streetscape rehabilitation, which is estimated to cost $4.1 million. The Counties will receive $2.5 million through the Canada Infrastructure Program.
- The Counties are partnering with South Stormont on a $700,000 St. Andrews West urban renewal project. The scope of work includes paving, the replacement of sidewalks, replacement of curbs, driveway culvert, repairs, some storm sewer repairs and ditching improvements (with minor areas filled).
- The Counties will spend more than $3.4 million on bridge repair and rehabilitation in 2021.