Tax ramifications are also the consequence of COVID-19. For the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands, the 2021 budget is likely to include a potential tax increase of 3.6 percent.
A proposed three to 3.6 per cent increase in municipal property taxes has been proposed, depending on whether county and education taxes go up as well. The number is yet to be finalized and the designated committee has not recommended the proposed increase to the Council.
According to Mayor Corinna Smith-Gatcke,
“The proposed increase is necessary in order to maintain service levels;
the proposed budget is still $1 million less than last year’s budget.”
The township’s budget in 2020 was $14,930,471, while the proposed budget for 2021 reaches $13,799,620. Per the Director of Finance, Kate Tindal, the township is reeling from the loss of casino revenues that once sustained its reserves and negated the need to hike taxes more than according to the cost of living.
Coun. Terry Fodey noted,
“My thoughts are that casino money not being there anymore is
bringing us back to reality, the same reality that other municipalities
face every year. This wake-up will be better for us in the long run.”
The township usually garners revenue in the sphere of $1.5 million from the local casino, but now projections are considerably lower at $100,000. Tindal explains the problem.
“We have received no information directly from the casino. This is a conservative estimate as so much unknown around COVID-19 and possible restrictions in 2021.”
This year, taxes were raised modestly 2.2 per cent. A higher increase at 3.6% would translate to an additional $56 per year. Residents pay on average $67 more per year on the average home.
TLTI would then have lowest tax rates in the region, second after Athens. Word is out that council members are satisfied with the preliminary budget as an excellent start given the headwinds coming in 2021.
Smith-Gatchke has more to say on the subject, primarily that there is nothing much to change.
“The budget is realistic based in that casino revenue is less than a tenth of the expected revenues in years past. We have long been dependent on it to fund our reserves.”
There are a few element of the preliminary budget that have raised any concerns such the library budget and staffing levels in the municipality.
GIVE THE GIFT OF TRUSTED NEWS.
Most of the budget for operating expenses is salaries and benefits, per Jeff Lackie, the Deputy Mayor.
“I would like to bring a motion to have a study done regarding staffing
because staffing has grown exponentially in the years I have been here.”