MARYANNE FIRTH/Tribune Staff
The pockets of Port Colborne’s average homeowner will be about $50 lighter this year.
City councillors passed the 2012 operating and capital budgets Monday night, bringing in a 3.95% tax hike.
This means a residential property with an average assessment of $168,000 will see in increase of about $49.55 to its city portion of its tax bill this year, said Peter Senese, director of community and corporate services.
At its last meeting on Jan. 23, council sent the budget back to staff to search for $30,000 in savings with hopes of bringing the tax increase below 4% — direction that to councillors proved successful on Monday.
Mayor Vance Badawey admitted he’s not satisfied with the budget, as council always “tries to shoot for inflation.”
“But there’s a reality to that,” he said. “It’s the cost of doing business.
“There’s no questions that we made a lot of cuts and changes, but I don’t think a lot will be seen in the day-to-day community,” Badawey said.
It’s a matter of finding a balance between the services people expect to see and the cost required to provide them, he added.
As the 2012 budget process kick-started the city’s service audit, Badawey is confident Port Colborne will identify further efficiencies in the coming months.
Though council hoped to see a tax levy increase closer to inflation, prior to Christmas the number sat at a near 8%. It was through approval of debenturing $500,000 of roads funding that council was able to lower the tax hike to a more reasonable number to work with.
During Monday’s meeting, Badawey reiterated that debenturing the funds would not have an impact on taxpayers — despite that seeming to be a fear floating throughout the community.
The funds are being borrowed under low interest rates, which is a benefit to both the city and community, Senese said, calling the debenture a “cash-flow mechanism.”
Though the debenture’s annual cost of $35,000 will be repaid through the tax levy, it will be taken out of the existing roads budget, meaning no impact to taxpayers, Senese said.
“It’s self-financing,” Badawey added.