Blumhagen proposes 3.75 per cent increase to county budget - Jan. 24, 2019
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Huron County Treasurer Michael Blumhagen is proposing a 3.75 per cent increase to the county budget for 2019.
Blumhagen presented the first draft of the budget to council at its Jan. 16 meeting, telling council that in its current form, the county levy would increase by just over $1.5 million.
However, because the county’s unweighted property assessment value has increased by over $1.2 billion, the proposed county tax rate would actually represent a tax rate reduction of 2.98 per cent.
If the county were to maintain the same tax rates as 2018, Blumhagen said in his report, the tax rate increase would be nearly seven per cent.
Blumhagen said that the draft budget would result in a decrease of $1.85 per $100,000 of residential assessment. The median residential property in Huron County, being valued at $210,000, would see a decrease of $10.84 on that same level of assessment under the proposed tax rate.
For farmland, the proposed increase per $100,000 of property would be $13.77, meaning that the median farm property in Huron County, valued at $966,820, would see an increase of $112.26.
In an effort to limit staff salary increases, Blumhagen said non-union salary increases will be set at 1.5 per cent for 2019. In regards to union increases, the county will be at the mercy of arbitration with the corresponding unions for those potential increases.
While Blumhagen said that the county is in a relatively stable position, expecting a year-end surplus for 2018 and a healthy level of reserves, he said there are ongoing pressures that his department has to take into account.
While nothing has been finalized, he expects that the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) money will be further reduced by the provincial government, which will affect the county’s budget. He also said that the county will be paying over $50 million in total labour costs of salary and benefits in 2019, which will be a strain on the budget.
For comparison, Blumhagen included a chart featuring the county levy for the last 18 years, dating back to 2000 when the total levy was $17.7 million.
The levy has since more than doubled with a levy of $40.1 million in 2018 and a proposed levy of approximately $41.6 million for 2019.
Huron County Council will be considering the budget in the coming months after departments present their budgets to council and special budget sessions are held, with a final budget to be presented later this year.