Elgin County Delivers Modest 2.9% Tax Increase
Central Elgin, ON – At their meeting on February 9, 2021, Elgin County Councillors approved a $72.4 M operating cost budget and a $39.1 M levy – a $1.8 M increase over 2020. The levy represents a tax increase of 2.9% on an average property and as an example equating to approximately $61 on a $350,000 home. The 2021 Budget is a financial plan that has been developed to produce the best possible outcomes for Elgin County residents in a way that utilizes tax dollars in a prudent and responsible manner. Careful planning, the use of reserves and leveraging debt have allowed for modest, reasonable tax increases over the next ten years.
In 2020, Elgin County Council finalized its 2020-2022 Strategic Plan which acted as a roadmap for resource allocation throughout the 2021 Budget planning process. The Strategic Plan prioritizes investing in Elgin in a way that is financially responsible by ensuring Elgin has the necessary tools, resources and infrastructure to efficiently deliver programs and services now and in the future.
In 2021, Elgin County Council has committed to significant investment in the transportation infrastructure (roads and bridges) that our residents utilize on a daily basis. The County will also break ground on the long-anticipated Terrace Lodge Redevelopment Project. This will entail a considerable financial investment over the course of the next three (3) years. The 2021 Budget invests $60,000 annually to plan for future library expansions and makes available an additional $150,000 in Community Improvement Plan funding as a result of tightening other Economic Development budget lines.
Ensuring that County processes and programs are providing the most value possible for Elgin County residents is imperative. In 2020, the County of Elgin engaged in a Municipal Service Delivery Review designed to identify areas where County services could be adjusted to operate in a more efficient and effective manner. Through the 2021 Budget, Elgin County Council has committed to a modest investment of $300,000 which will be dedicated to exploring and implementing priority improvements as selected by Council.
The County has faced a number of cost pressures recently, over and above the significant challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The need to maintain the condition of County facilities to ensure their safety and accessibility has added $900,000 annually to the budget. Increases in insurance of $100,000 also add to cost pressures faced at the County level.
Despite these pressures, the County of Elgin was able to realize $200,000 in Long-Term Care Homes efficiencies predominantly as a result of increased provincial funding through the Case Mix Index (CMI).
“I would like to recognize my colleagues on Elgin County Council and in particular the Budget Committee for their considerable efforts to deliver a budget that is affordable and sustainable,” said Warden Tom Marks. “As elected officials, we are tasked with being the stewards of taxpayer dollars and public goods. It is crucial that we use this responsibility to produce a budget that both achieves the greatest possible good for our residents while keeping costs as affordable as is practicable. I am confident that we have achieved these goals, keeping increases low without sacrificing investments that must be made to maintain public assets for future use.” Warden Marks concluded, “I am delighted that our budget process in 2021 was as transparent and accessible as it has ever been through the addition of live-streamed Budget Committee meetings and enhanced public engagement. We hope to continue these processes moving forward to ensure that we develop budgets that are in alignment with the needs and wants of our communities.”
Council will be investing a further $200 million over the next ten years to maintain the condition of roads and bridges at the lowest life-cycle costs. Major Capital projects in 2021 include but are not limited to:
The County of Elgin will break ground on the Terrace Lodge Redevelopment Project which will take place over the course of the next three (3) years and cost $32.9M
Road reconstruction will occur on Sparta Line between Union and Sparta at a cost of $2.0 M.
Significant rehabilitation will continue on the King George VI Lift Bridge in Port Stanley, with a remaining cost of $3.9M in 2021.
The County of Elgin will be replacing Meeks Bridge in Southwold Township costing $2.8M.
Centennial/Elm Intersection Improvements will be undertaken this year and will cost $1.5M.
In 2021, the Village of Rodney will be fully reconstructed at the cost of $5.0 M.
For more information about the 2021 Budget process or to view a complete copy of the Elgin County 2021 Budget please visit www.elgincounty.ca/budgetcommittee
For additional information, please contact:
Tom Marks, Elgin County Warden
Jim Bundschuh, Director of Financial Services
519 631-1460 x 141