Taxes will be going up for some Harrison homeowners, and down for others this year, depending on where they call home.
A single family home assessed at $317,000 (the average for Harrison this year) will be paying $2,293 in taxes. That’s a $52.42 increase over last year. However, for a strata unit assessed at $253,000, the taxes dropped from $1,845 to $1,830 a year — a $15 decrease.
The Village’s director of finance, Dale Courtice, outlined this year’s taxes, their 10-year plan, capital projects and revenue sources at a public meeting held at Harrison Memorial Hall Tuesday night.
Taxes are based on assessed values of properties, and in total, assessments dropped by $10 million this year, to about $3.63 million. In Harrison, there are three property classes: residential, commercial, and recreation/non-profit.
Residential assessments were down slightly, with single family homes dropping an average of $1,500. Business assessments dropped by 15%, while recreational and non-profit lands rose by 63%.
The majority of property tax comes from residential properties (59.3%), for a total of $1,098,250. Businesses will contribute $680,500 (36.8%) this year, and recreation/non-profit will contribute the smallest portion at just under 4%, with $72,250.
Staff reminded the public that only just under half of the taxes collected remain in the municipality. The other half goes toward other governments.
In Harrison, the cost of policing this year is going down by $3,000 — a stark contrast to Kent, where the cost of policing contributed to higher taxes this year.
Taxes are only one piece of the budget, however, comprising about one third of the total revenue collected by the municipality. In total, the Village will collect $4.5 million in revenue through various streams, including transfers from other government ($1,973,750), DCCs ($279,800), and revenue from their own sources ($1,412,300).
The budget balances expenditures with capital, covering off a wide array of costs —from lighting the streets to the costs of public works.
There are two main projects for the Village this year. The first is the revitalization of Esplanade, which is just about complete, was entirely paid for by RMI funds and Gas Tax revenues, and is reported to be under budget.
The second project is the complete of a new water treatment facility. That project is aided by grants from the Gas Tax agreements and the Regionally Strategic Priorities Fund.
The public asked a few questions of staff regarding the budget process. One residents asked if the pipe that has become an eyesore at Rendall Park will be fixed year. The answer was yes, but not until after the summer. Staff has put in an application but the Ministry of Environment requires a 120-day waiting period due to the location of the park near the water.
“That will take us right to the busy season and we don’t want to be running around digging up sand then,” answered Ian Gardner, operations manager.
But not all questions went so smoothly.
John Allen stated he is concerned there hasn’t been enough public input into the budget. Mayor Leo Facio answered that there has been “three or four meetings” plus a special council meeting held last Thursday that the public was able to attend. The budget has not been discussed at regular council meetings, and the April 22 meeting was cancelled.
When Allen pressed the mayor on the issue, he read out the section of the community charter relating to budget requirements, which has been followed. Allen then asked for a copy of a more detailed budget to review, and was told that he and anyone else could come to the office and request to review it there. He was then asked to give time at the microphone to others.
“There may be people here who have come for a good reason,” Facio said.
“But I do have a good reason to be here,” Allen said. “This falls a long way short of letting people know how their money is being spent.”
Facio agreed that the “most important meetings are the budget meetings.” But he also said that the Village is “lucky to have one person come out.”
The budget is available for perusal during business hours at the Village office, and the minutes of the special meetings are viewable on the Village website under “Look at Agendas and Minutes.”