A 14 per cent tax hike it is, as Wellesley council this week quickly approved the 2023 budget as hashed out last month.
Homeowners face a $180 increase in the township portion of their property tax bills, based on an average home assessed at $389,000.
There was little discussion Tuesday night as councillors approved a general tax levy increase of 4.43 per cent, along with an extra one per cent for infrastructure projects and 0.75 per cent for greening initiatives. That total of 6.18 per cent is joined with a 7.77 per cent increase to help pay for the new Wellesley Township Recreation Centre, bringing the total to 13.95 per cent.
Staff cited inflation and large increases in prices for construction and products the township relies on as justification for the increase.
“Inflation at the end of October sat at 6.9 per cent overall. Some of the major cost incurred by the municipality like fuel, salt, aggregates, construction materials and equipment have increased by 15 to 40 per cent, some even more than that,” wrote Rik Louwagie in his brief overview for the budget sessions.
The increase can be justified, said Mayor Joe Nowak at the January 10 meeting.
“There’s been a lot of work on that budget, a lot of effort by staff. I know it’s been a difficult one to deal with, but I think if you look across the region, the other municipalities are struggling much along the same lines and I think some of them are actually a little higher than what we’ve delivered,” he said.
“It’s the first time we’ve got an infrastructure levy and I think that that’s going to help us down the line, hopefully. There’s a lot of major projects that we’re going to be dealing with over the next few years, so we’re going to position ourselves in a good place right now.”
The draft operating budget for the township forecasts expenditures of $10,652,146 next year, up 13.6 per cent over the $9,380,209 in the 2022 budget.
Staffing costs are also a big driver. Beyond obligations in current collective agreements, there are inflationary pressures, as well as budgeting for new hires in relation to the opening of the new rec. complex, expected in the fall.