With inflation running at a record high the last year, many residents were concerned their taxes would skyrocket just to keep up with the increasing costs it takes to run a city the size of Pembroke.
However, many breathed a sigh of relief when city council announced the municipal portion on their overall tax bill will increase by 2.95 per cent.
Pembroke, along with the other 17 local governments in the county are all struggling to balance the books amid all their own local priorities.
During the month of February, Whitewater residents were met with a stunning nine per cent increase on the municipal portion of their tax bill. Bonnechere Valley council is struggling with the looming impact of the most recent Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) assessment. Council will be struggling to find an affordable solution for both residents and the township if an expected 37 per cent increase is accurate.
Contained within Pembroke’s $78.8 million budget an even split of resources with $39.4 million used for all operations and the remaining $39.4 million is earmarked for various capital works projects.
However, the 2.5 per cent increase is only one part of their bill with the rate for the county levy and the school board portion have yet to be finalized. But this set rate gives local residents an idea of what to expect in 2023.
Overall, in 2023, a Pembroke property owner with an average residential assessment of $185,000 will be paying $155 more this year in combined property taxes, garbage, waste, water and sewer fees. This represents an increase of $12.92 per month compared to the 2022 figure. Of the $155 increase, $82 represents the property tax increase.
The average multi-residential assessed at $700,000 will see a $972 increase this year, while average commercial assessed at $218,000 will see a $322 increase and industrial assessed at $493,000 will see a $720 increase.
One bit of good news found in the thousands of numbers in the budgetary documents was the announcement that waste management rates for garbage collection and disposal and the city’s contribution to the Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre will stay the same in 2023 in the amount of $223.
However, some residents may feel the punch when they turn on the water taps only to find this service is tapping an additional 5.7 per cent. That is in addition to an increase of just under 10 percent for water serviced with a meter.
The sewer service metered rate is going up by 6.9 per cent. What that means for the typical resident homeowner is an overall increase of $73 for water and sewer service.
A common question is where does the city get enough money to operate not only existing programs and services, but what about any future services downloaded from the federal or provincial governments to local municipalities juggling with some of these programs.
Unlike the federal or provincial governments that are granted additional revenue generating initiatives, the municipalities have no such legislative powers. measure. This may explain the drop from 65.1 to 59.1 per cent in overall city revenue collected through residential taxes.
Although the province and the feds do transfer money to Pembroke through grants and programs, it has been slowly decreasing over the years and now accounts for 26 percent of money coming into the treasury.
Revenue brought into city coffers through new garbage and recycling charges adds up to four percent and investments contained in the city’s investments within its financial portfolio amounts to 3.7 per cent.
The revenue stream is rounded out with 3.3 per cent generated by recreation user fees and charges. Miscellaneous charges account for 2.4 percent and the reserve funds account for the final 1.5 per cent of city revenue streams.
DeputyMayor Brian Abdullah, who is chair of the city’s Financial & Administration Committee, said the ability of council to deliver a 2.5 percent increase was challenging due to external and internal pressures.
Among those challenges is the ongoing commitment to ensure the city’s infrastructure is maintained as required under the city’s Asset Management Plan.
Abdullah said the $255,000 reserve contribution for the new aquatic centre is also a key part of the city’s commitment to long-term economic development.
Construction season will soon be here and the city has earmarked $39.4 million for capital projects. Some of the money has already been set aside with $5.4 million for upkeep of city buildings, facilities and parks.
Among the biggest projects on the drawing board include an infusion of resources delegated for roads and bridges and $600,000 will be invested towards modernizing the city’s equipment and fleet.
Some of capital expenditures are $2.4 million for road reconstruction of Pembroke Street West; $4.8 million for water works on Bennett Street; $3.8 million for phase two of road reconstruction on Nelson Street from the lift station to William Street; $8.3 million to continue the twinning of the Townline sanitary sewer forcemain.
Smaller projects include $345,000 for road resurfacing on Broadview Drive, Mackay Street and Maple Avenue, $75,000 to replace the Cecil Street Park play structure, $20,000 to resurface the Rotary Park tennis courts, and $65,000 for a new compressor at the Pembroke and Area Community Centre.
Deputy-Mayor Abdallah said an application was submitted to the federal Natural Infrastructure Fund. If successful it will help remove drainage issues at the Riverside Park ball diamonds. The application is currently under review.