• Rob Hornberger

Kingsville council approves 2.3 per cent tax increase

Town raises revenue projections, uses reserve money to reduce hike
Town council approved a $42 million budget Wednesday.

KINGSVILLE — Town council passed its 2022 budget Wednesday, increasing municipal taxes by 2.3 per cent but keeping the final hike lower than expected by boosting some of its revenue projections and dipping into reserve funds.

The municipal tax increase on a home assessed at $250,000 will be $40.27 — down from the $45.83 originally planned.

To attain the lower figure, council decided to increase the estimated revenue generated from tax assessment gains and placed an extra $50,000 from reserves into general revenue.

More general revenue means less dependence on taxes.

The debate over placing more funds in general revenue was sparked by Coun. Thomas Neufeld.

“I didn’t ask for $1 million being taken out (or) $700,000 being taken out; it’s $50,000,” said Neufeld.

“This is taxpayer money that’s just sitting there … I’m concerned about trying to reduce the tax impact for this year as we are every year. If $50,000 brings it down a couple of bucks it’s still a couple of bucks less."

Councillors Kimberly DeYong and Tony Gaffan voted against the decision to transfer funds.

“I do appreciated trying to sharpen their pencils, but I sure as heck don’t want to put anyone on the next term of council behind the eight ball,” said Gaffan.

He said in an interview that the town has made a number of new hires for 2022. Some of those hires, he said, were part-time positions that will become full time in 2023

Gaffan said he wanted to make sure there were funds set aside to cover those 2023 salaries and wages.

DeYong said she wanted the reserves left intact to build up funds for the purchase of two schools that will become vacant once the new K-12 school opens.

She said the two schools will not come cheap.

Leamington paid $1,343,200 for the old Leamington District High School site on Talbot Street in early 2021.

When budget deliberations began two weeks ago, council was looking at a 3.5 per cent increase in municipal taxes, or $62.35.

The municipal tax hike does not included the taxes levied by the county and school boards. With those levies added, the total tax increase for a home assessed at $250,000 will be $59.30.

The $42-million municipal budget also includes major spending on road repairs, resurfacing and bridge work.

Included in the road work proposals are improvements to Road 2 between the Graham and Kratz side roads, upgrades to Road 3 between the Albuna Townline and County Road 34, improvements to roads 10 and 11, reconstruction of the Cedar Beach park laneway and road resurfacing in the Cedar Island subdivision.

“There are some people on both sides of the fence about whether it’s a good use of the taxpayers’ money, but when we give (for example) …. the yacht club $2,500 for its sailing programs, I think that’s a good return on investment.”

Also Wednesday, council allocated grants totalling $76,240 to various community groups, an increase over the budget estimate.

Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary received $10,000 for accessibility improvements, the horticultural society received $8,000 and the pickleball club received $10,000 toward construction of a shade canopy for its courts off Jasperson Lane.

The Cedar Island Yacht club received an ongoing commitment of $2,500 a year for the next four years for its youth sailing program.

A grant request by St. Jean de Brebeuf Church for $35,000 for repairs and renovations to the church was denied. The church is in the midst of fundraising effort that has raised $1.1 million toward renovations.

The total goal is $3.3 million.

Administration felt a grant to help a church renovation would set “a difficult precedent.”

Mayor Nelson Santos said Kingsville is fortunate to have so many community-minded groups and service clubs.

“I think it speaks to the spirit we have in Kingsville,” he said in an interview.

“We’re so thankful for that”

Ryan McLeod, the town’s director of financial services, said the town is unique in the amount of grants it gives to local groups.

“Part of Kingsville’s model Is a recognition we don’t have a very extensive recreation program,” he said in an interview.

“There are some people on both sides of the fence about whether it’s a good use of the taxpayers’ money, but when we give (for example) …. the yacht club $2,500 for its sailing programs, I think that’s a good return on investment.”

Building department offers online permits

The town’s building department has announced a new online service that will allow homeowners and contractors to apply for building permits from their cell phones or computers.

Building inspector Mike Olewski said the new online service will give users “one-stop shopping” and allow applicants to navigate more easily through the finer points of applying for permits.

He said the new service will also help with building inspections.

“Immediately once we do an inspection, they’re notified of the inspection. We’re able to tell them whether it’s pass, fail or incomplete, whatever the result ….

“When they sign in they have one page with all the inspections so they’re able to manage their project a lot better,” he said.

Olewski said the pandemic accelerated the move to online permits. But he said the move was inevitable given the town’s transition to a paperless work environment.

He said the town is working toward an e-transfer system that will allow online payments for permits and inspections. As of now, payments must be dropped off at the town hall.

Homeowners and contractors can access the online system by going to the website kingsville.ca/building.

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