Preliminary County budget calls for 2.2-per-cent increase in tax levy

Adam Bramburger
Beaver Staff

Lennox and Addington County staff were poised to present councillors with a $78-million draft budget after press time last night, which would see its property tax levy increase 2.2 per cent.

An executive summary included in the agenda for a working session meeting suggests that $26.4 million of the total budget will be raised through property taxation. Considering assessment increases due to development, staff is asking for an extra $572,000 over last year. The balance of revenue comes fro grants and subsidies, municipal recoveries, other revenues and a $4,685,800 transfer from reserve funds.

On the average residential property, which is valued at $244,191 — up $3,387 over last year — the proposed budget increase would mean a tax hike of $14.03.

That number could increase, however, pending council’s decision on two granting requests it has deferred to the 2018 budget process. In a report to council, financial and physical services director Stephen Fox noted in October,  the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF) asked for $328,000 in annual support for redevelopments and upgrades at regional acute care hospitals.

Fox noted that number is up from the $100,000 a year the County gave from 2008 to 2017.

He also reported “The County will be experiencing significant pressures in its own health care responsibilities over the next several years, particularly related to the expansion of Paramedic Services” as over the next seven years, the levy will need to increase by 4.4 per cent to build new bases in Stone Mills and Loyalist (assuming a 50-per-cent provincial contribution).

Fox offered five options council could consider for UHKF. One was to do nothing. To match its previous commitment, the budget levy would increase by 0.39 per cent. To give the full $328,000 as requested, the levy would increase 1.28 per cent. Options to tie the contribution to consumer price index over the last 10 years or offer a contribution based in Kingston’s increase were in between those totals.

Also, in January, Lennox and Addington County Seniors Outreach Services (L&A SOS) asked for $20,000 in financial support. The County gave prebudget approval for $5,000 and deferred decision on the rest. To provide the grant as requested would have a levy impact of 0.06 per cent. The money would offset costs for L&A SOS’s fee-for-service programs, allowing it to spend to enhance programs and reach more seniors.

The proposed budget includes $12 million in capital improvements for County roads and bridges with projects slated on County Ads. 1,2, 4, 15, and 41. It also includes the second phase of the Dundas Street reconstruction in Napanee.

Some $2.6 million has been set aside to build a new ambulance base in Centreville, to complete the acquisition of the existing Denbigh base and to buy replacement vehicles and equipment. An additional $451,000 is slated for 12-hour operation of the Stone Mills base, effective in July.

Salaries and benefits are also set to increase with the County spending $21,407,800 on salaries for 326.5 full-time equivalent staff — up 4.4 per cent from last year — and spending $5,966,900 on benefits, an increase of 8.9 per cent from 2017. The overall complement of staff is up six full-time equivalent positions. Increases in paramedic service staff for Stone Mills and changes to behavioural support staff at the John M. Parrott Centre are the primary reasons for the increase, the latter fully funded by grants.

The County will be receiving $2.3 million in provincial funding for affordable housing initiatives, including the building of new rental units and the provision of rent supplements to private landlords. Prince Edward-Lennox and Addington Social Services is also planning some interesting work, including an evaluation of an emergency shelter pilot project and the implementation of a homeless enumeration process. Consultation will also take place for a housing and homelessness plan.

The County will also receive $6.5 million to enhance children’s services, offering additional operating and capital funds for licence child care and early years services.

Capital improvements are also planned at several County buildings. The John M. Parrott Centre will see $617,000 in capital repairs, equipment and furnishing. An additional $501,000 will be split between the County Courthouse, Memorial Building, Museum & Archives, Allan Macpherson House, social services offices and ambulance bases.

To view the entire preliminary budget document, please see Stay tuned to for the latest on budget developments.

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