East Ferris residents can expect an increase of about $165 per year– just under $14 per month – on an average residential tax bill. “Most people can relate to a dollar figure,” explained East Ferris’ chief administrative officer, Jason Trottier, as opposed to a percentage. “Because that’s how it affects you on a day-to-day basis.”
For the record, the percentage is 9.7 per cent. For the past four years, the increase has averaged 2.1 per cent annually. Tapping into reserves kept the number low, but as Trottier explained, the practice isn’t sustainable. Before long, the reserves will run dry.
The municipality has one million in reserves, “a healthy amount,” and this year, council decided to still draw 1.7 per cent to help keep the tax rate increase below 10 per cent. This percentage equates to $105,000.
“We don’t like to use reserves” to offset the rate, “they dwindle down and reserves should be kept for emergencies or unforeseen and unplanned expenditures.” Last year, almost 5 per cent was taken from reserves so the increase would stay at 2 per cent for the taxpayer.
See: East Ferris ‘in good financial position’ with 2022 budget
One per cent of the municipal budget is about $60,000 dollars, Trottier explained. For perspective, the hydro at the arena costs over $100,000 per year. Prices are going up for all, and the municipality is not exempt from the rising costs of utilities, insurance, material costs and interest rates.
East Ferris’ budget is about $10 million, which includes operating and capital funds. Big ticket items include the public works department, which is about $1.5 million, police services, which is around $600,000, and this year, the municipality pays $1.4 million to the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board.
The municipality is also dealing with the cost of building a new public works garage after a fire ruined the old one in March 2022.
Insurance covered about half of the rebuild, but the municipality had to add another $1.4 million. The cost increase was due to increasing the size of the building to better accommodate the crew and equipment. “That was an unforeseen expense, unfortunately,” Trottier said.
See: East Ferris’ new municipal office and garage coming in new year
The municipality is also spending $525,000 for road repair and another $125,000 to maintain gravel roads.
“We always kept the tax rates low, so we do our best for the taxpayer, but this year is one of adjustment where our rates are going up.”
“Eventually you have to wean yourself off reserves,” Trottier said.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.