East Hawkesbury adopts 2017 budget; has not yet received final audit for 2016

The Township of East Hawkesbury approved its 2017 municipal budget on September 25, despite 2016 revenues and expenses having not yet been completely posted into the 2016 ledger.

Highlights of the budget include a 5.65 per cent increase in revenue collected from property taxes, as well as the need to use $167,121 from the township’s working reserve due to the unaccounted revenues and expenses. The township has not yet received its 2016 financial statements from its auditor, Deloitte. 

The budget posts no tax increases for garbage collection and disposal, recycling collection, or rates charged for municipal sewage services.

One significant area of change is the amount of money received from the Ontario Municipal Partnership fund. The township has been allocated $295,600 for 2017, a difference of $211,800 from the $507,400 received in the base year of 2014. This amount is equivalent to nearly 12 per cent re-occurring annually in lost revenues.

The Township of East Hawkesbury recently hired a new CAO/Clerk-Treasurer, Luc Lalonde; however, the budget was prepared previous to Lalonde’s hiring, by interim CAO/Clerk-treasurer, Robert Lefebvre.

Lefebvre took over the position following the departure of the municipality’s previous CAO/Clerk-Treasurer after funds were discovered missing. Charges were not pressed against the former municipal administrator.

The township recently introduced new accounting software and equipment to transition to a new, integrated accounting system in keeping with those used by many other municipalities in the area. These costs are covered in the budget as part of its 2017 operational expenditures.

Property tax increase

Total property taxes collected by the East Hawkesbury Township in 2017 will increase by 5.65 per cent—2.65 per cent of which is revenue due to growth and 3 per cent which will come as an increase in the levy. Together, the tax increase will mean $1,950,001 in property taxes will be collected in 2017, up from the $1,845,613 collected in 2016.

For individuals, the taxes paid per $100,000 in assessed value will increase from $475.11 in 2016 to $486.15 in 2017—a change of $11.04.

Previously, the draft budget presented on August 28 had distributed these rates differently; while the earlier document also put forth a 5.65 per cent tax increase, only 0.63 per cent was attributed to increase due to growth, while 5.02 per cent would come as an increase in the levy. Current CAO/Clerk-Treasurer Luc Lalonde says the change is simply a correction from the draft version of the budget.

Capital expenditures

In a document prepared for council by Lefebvre, the interim CAO/Clerk-Treasurer noted that capital expenditures which have already been committed or expended will remain largely “unfinanced” for this year. 

Lefebvre indicated that the 2017 budget was prepared based on a zero surplus. Thus, the sum of $167,121 will be used from the working reserve to balance the 2017 revenues with the proposed expenditures. Should the 2016 audit present a surplus for the year, the surplus could be used to reduce the contribution from the reserve or to finance existing capital projects.