Wellesley explains its 14 per cent budget hike

Council passed 6.2% rise two weeks ago, additional 7.7% was approved last March




Metroland Media Group Ltd.



The Township of Wellesley is defending a 14 per cent tax increase after questions about transparency — a much higher increase than the 6.2 per cent discussed during budget deliberations. Council voted earlier this month on the 2023 budget and discussed a 6.2 per cent tax hike, but that didn’t match up with the estimated $179.09 increase for the average tax bill. The tax bill for 2023 actually includes an additional 7.7 per cent hike for debt and staffing related to the Wellesley Recreation Complex. The budget contained a note saying only that the tax increase was in addition to service level and debt costs approved in 2022, but did not say how that would affect the overall property tax increase. After queries from The Record about when the 7.7 per cent increase was approved, the township issued a news release Tuesday saying the costs were previously approved. No record of a 7.7 per cent tax increase being discussed could be found in meeting recordings, agendas or minutes. “Further increases will not occur as a result of this debenture,” the release said. Of the 7.7 per cent increase, 5.5 per cent is for the debt issued for the complex. In an email last week, Mayor Joe Nowak confirmed the increase for the rec complex. Asked when the rec complex tax increase was approved, the township pointed to a March 2022 council vote allowing the township to issue $16.1 million of debt that the township would use to pay contractors, and then recoup from the province, which had promised to fund the project by that amount. During that meeting, there was no discussion of the impact on the tax levy. The average tax bill will increase the township portion of property taxes by $179.29 in 2023. About $100 of the tax increase is for the rec complex. Township taxes account for 31 per cent of the total property tax bill; regional taxes account for 53 per cent, and education taxes make up 16 per cent. The recreation complex was approved in December 2021 at a cost of about $27.1 million.