Essex County Tax Increase Comes In Lower Than Expected

Essex County taxpayers are in for a pleasant surprise when the 2018 budget goes before council Wednesday night.

Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche sits on county council for the town of Essex, he says a 2% increase was expected to cover capital expenses and to plan for the future.

He announced that the increase will likely only be 1.5%, taking in the money needed moving forward, with less burden on the residents of Essex County.

"It's about another $17-million to spend. A lot of that money is going into reserves so that we can build a better road-system going forward," Meloche says. "Also the new mega-hospital, when it comes in about 10-years from now we've got the money as a down payment for the province."

Council still has to vote the budget in, but Meloche says he hasn't seen anything in the numbers that would hold up the process.

"When administration can come back and say we've done better than the mandate you've given us, I have to say that my guess would be that you're going to see most councillors very happy with what our administrations come forward with," says Meloche.

He tells AM800 News staffers coming back with a sound financial plan isn't a surprise.

Essex County’s credit rating has been upgraded by Standard and Poor’s to an AA+, the top rating given at the county level in Ontario.

"To be able to boast that kind of rating is pretty outstanding. For our administration and the hard work that they've done, it doesn't happen overnight," says Meloche. "This something that started with a plan going back 20-years-ago to try and get us to this level of security in the sense of what our reserves are and what our debt is."

Meloche says more details will be released in the coming days. The 2018 county budget goes before council at the Essex County Civic Centre Wednesday night at 7pm.