A Special Council-in-Budget Committee meeting was held last evening to finalize discussions on the supplementary request from the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium (FELRC). At the March 3, 2015 meeting, Council dealt with the 2015 General Levy and all of the supplementary budget requests, with the exception of the FELRC request. Representatives from the FELRC were present in order to respond to detailed questions by Council members. In the end, a new motion put forward by Ward 1 Councillor, George McDermott, was approved in a 4-2 vote. The motion approved a grant to the FELRC of $500,000 in 2015, a further $250,000 in 2016 and no payment in 2017. Members of Council also offered to work with the FELRC to further discussions with the Province in an effort to reduce and eliminate the municipality’s funding from taxes.
“This new Council engaged in vigorous discussions on each of the supplementary budget requests, which resulted in a good mix of new and improved services to the community”, stated Mayor Wayne Redekop. “While any budget increase is felt by each and every resident and business owner, we are fortunate that we have some great projects on the horizon that will hopefully add to our assessment growth over the next several years. At the same time, we are helping plan for the future through the Capital Reserve strategic investment and a Waterfront Strategy that will enhance public access and assist with planning and implementing lakefront projects that should result in increased tourism”.
The final 2015 General Levy, including approved supplementary requests, is $23,195,234. This is an increase to the Town levy of 7.54%.
The impact on the median Town of Fort Erie household (assessed at $179,715):
- Total estimated “all-in” tax increase including the Region and Education portion is 3.39%; however the Education portion has not yet been finalized by the Province
- Monthly impact on the total property tax bill for a median household is $7.32/month or $87.84/year
“Providing the Supplementary Budget separate from the General Levy Base provides Council members the ability to make choices on what additional projects and services they want to focus on,” stated Director of Financial Services, Jonathan Janzen. “The budget process provides a good opportunity for the community to learn more about Town services and for Council to bring forward detailed questions”.
Approved Supplementary Budget items included the following base budget and one-time items:
- Capital Reserves ($400,000) – base
- Tax write-off and tax reduction programs ($42,000) – base
- Cemetery Master Plan Capital Reserve increase ($13,000) – base
- Cost of the By-Election ($40,609) – one-time
- Fort Erie Waterfront Strategy ($75,000) – funded by Development Charges and Parkland Reserves
- Communities-in-Bloom International Competition ($18,000) – one-time
- Contribution to the DSBN Greater Fort Erie Secondary School Theatre ($250,000) – funded by the General Levy Rate Stabilization Fund
- Fleet apprentice ($38,646), summer weekend Parks casual employee ($10,994) and winter weekend Roads Crew Leader ($14,623) – base
- Third party review of management/non-union salaries for pay equity purposes ($40,000) as well as a Third-party organizational review ($25,000) – one-time
- Niagara Community Foundation support ($12,500) – one-time
- as well as other grants for various smaller requests. A complete listing of the supplementary items can be found on the Town’s website.
The final budget will be approved by By-law at the March 23, 2015 Regular Council meeting.
2015 Budget details are available on the Town’s website at http://www.town.forterie.ca/pages/Budget2015Information. All Council-in-Budget Committee meetings are also broadcast live on-line.