Essex Targets Zero Percent Tax Hike in 2020

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A 0% tax increase will be the starting point for Essex council when it begins budget deliberations early next year.

On Tuesday night, administration asked council for a target number as work is set to begin on the 2020 budget.

Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche says this is not a promise to residents there won't be a tax hike, but council is prepared to do its best to keep the rate as low as possible.

Meloche says council will have a better idea when it receives the draft budget.

"I think people understand that we do the best job that we can do to keep taxes as low as possible and, at the same time, continue levels of service that they want to see," he says. "Snow plowing, sidewalk repairs and so on, but everybody know from their own personal households that all of these expenses go up."

Meloche says nobody wants to see a tax increase, but in some cases it's unavoidable.

"My belief is that we should probably set it at 0% and if finance can say, "If you want to get a jump start on this playground you're going to bring your up by a half percent," and then 1% or 1.5% and let council juggle around what they want to see done in our communities," he says.

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Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche seen after a council meeting on July 2, 2019 (Photo by AM800's Zander Broeckel)

Administration will present the 2020 draft budget in November.

Council will then have a couple of months to review it over before deliberations begin in mid-January.

Meloche says it'll be up to council to prioritize what needs to get done and what can wait.

"Administration will put in the nuts and bolts of what has to happen and then let council decide whether we think it important enough to include the items that would bring you up and maybe we can get away with a lesser percent than what we would have otherwise perhaps taken on," he says.

Last year, Essex residents in wards one and four saw a 1.58% tax increase while those in wards two and three were given a 1.77% jump.