The president of the Association des gens d’affaires d’Ormstown et des environs (AGAO+), Philippe Besombes, says an average tax increase of 10.5 per cent for 2023 that was approved during a special municipal council meeting on December 12 poses a serious impact on Ormstown’s business community.
In a statement released by the AGAO+, Besombes notes that taxes jumped by an average of 22.36 per cent in 2022, where nearly 18 per cent of the increase was due to the revaluation of the property roll. Add to this the 10.5 per cent increase announced for 2023, and the base rate will have increased by nearly 33 per cent in two years while commercial rates have risen over 38 per cent.
“Unfortunately, the municipality of Ormstown has made the decision not to adjust the tax rate to compensate for this increase,” says Besombes, referring to the balance between the tax rate and heightened property values. He suggests the increase, which comes at a time when overall expenses and business credit rates have risen significantly, only adds to the strain on local businesses. “The overall tax increase is also likely to have a big impact on the residents of the municipality, and by this same token, on our businesses,” Besombes says.
Long-term investment plan
Mayor Christine McAleer addressed the need to increase taxes during the December 12 meeting to adopt the proposed budget for 2023. In a speech introducing different components of the budget (including a long-term strategic investment plan conceived with the help of accounting firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton to allow the municipality to address its failing aqueduct system) McAleer said, “This five-year plan will allow us to reach our goal in a progressive manner without having to increase taxes out of proportion.”
The three-year fixed assets program announced by the municipality represents a total of $27.2 million in investments between now and 2025, including $8.5 million for a water filtration plant, $7 million for the wastewater overflow plan, and $5.4 million on the water and sewer network. The budget also includes investments in the road network, the installation of a traffic light at the intersection of Routes 138 and 201, as well as the purchase of a fire truck, installation of a splash pad, and funds for the municipal library.
“If we take into account all the work that needs to be done on our system, the filtration plant, the sewage management plan, and storm network (replacing the water, sewage and storm pipes) in critical sectors of town, the purchase of a fire truck, etc. we managed to keep the tax rate at an acceptable and stable level of 10 per cent for 2023,” McAleer explained. She ended her speech by acknowledging that the proposed budget involved making difficult decisions on the part of the municipal council, but this was what is needed for the municipality to responsibly address its present and future needs.
Besombes says the AGAO+ is hoping to meet with the mayor soon to discuss whether the municipality has any plans to help support its merchants and businesspeople who are now facing a higher tax bill.