Coun. Wendy Cheropita says it’s not a good time for the town to be raising property taxes. Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

After months of discussion, debate and confusion, Niagara-on-the-Lake council approved the town’s budget for 2023, but it was far from unanimous.

The final impact to the taxpayer is an increase of about $100.83, or 8.25 per cent, more than last year for the average property assessed at $541,000. 

People living in the urban boundary will also be subject to the stormwater tax, which is increasing this year by $9.36, up 8.26 per cent. That brings the total to $110.20 for the average NOTL home.

Couns. Gary Burroughs, Wendy Cheropita and Sandra O’Connor all withheld their endorsement of the $43.9 million operational budget.

“There’s no new moneys in here to implement the approved climate change adaptation plan,” said O’Connor.

She also argued that if not for an almost $1 million subsidy from the town’s parking reserves, the tax hike would be 15 per cent.

“We’ve been using the parking reserves for many different things over the years, including transit,” Coun. Erwin Wiens said in response to her concerns.

Cheropita voted against it because of inflation, rising food costs, plus increases and other tax hikes at the provincial level.

“There are residents in our own community who are struggling to cover their costs,” she said.

“I just think this is not the year to be putting in a big increase.”

Burroughs took issue with the fact the town was not using accommodation tax as a source of revenue for town projects.

Instead, the town is assigning a committee to make decisions on how to use revenue from the new 2 per cent room tax.

“There must be some capital projects that might qualify,” Burroughs said.

He estimated the town will receive “at least $800,000” from the room tax, after collecting $200,000 for the second half of 2022.

“There’s a lot of money out there and we should be budgeting both the potential income and potential expenses. We’re big on expenses, not so much on income.”

“Those that love (accommodation) tax are already saying, ‘Well, we should be spending it to reduce our current tax bill,’ ” he said.

Wiens pointed out the new tax has specific purposes.

“It’s supposed to be towards tourism,” he said.

Still, Burroughs felt the town was “not doing this budget properly.”

Almost $15 million of the budget will be covered by the town’s property tax levy. Another $952,110 will be covered by a special storm levy applicable to properties in urban areas.

The $9.6-million capital budget was passed earlier.

By Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 20, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   The Lake Report   Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
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