LaSalle Expects $1-Million Bill 148 Impact

A tough budget year in LaSalle is being made tougher by Ontario's Bill 148.

The proposed Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act includes a number of measures including equal pay for equal work and an increase of the minimum wage to $15/hr in 2019.

The legislation has number crunchers at municipalities across the province worried about making up the extra cash. As AM800 News told you about last month, the Town of Amherstburg expects the legislation to create $1.6-million in added costs.

In LaSalle, Treasurer Joe Milicia projects the extra costs to be about $1-million over the next two budgets — $600,000 in 2018 and $400,000 in 2019.

Milicia says right now the town is having a hard time planning for the impact.

"We're struggling to understand how the impact is going to effect us in 2018," says Milicia. "If we know the issue, we like to budget for it and that's what we're trying to do right now."

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Town of LaSalle Treasurer Joe Milicia attends the regular meeting of council on October 10, 2017. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

While Bill 148's minimum wage increase has attracted a lot of attention, Milicia says other factors in the bill are actually the main cost driver.

"The issues around going from the current minimum wage to [$14/hr] and then [$15/hr] are smaller impact to us — we don't have very many positions that are below the $15/hr an rate. We're fortunate in that sense, so we don't have to deal with that particular issue, it's some of the other things that are part of the legislation that are probably going to be a little more dramatic for us."

The treasurer says the cost of the minimum wage increase to $14/hr will add $50,000 in costs while the eventual bump to $15/hr in 2019 will add a further $10,000 to $15,000.

Milicia is trying to figure out the best way to ease in the increase instead of giving taxpayers sticker shock.

"We don't typically like to pass those types of increases right off the get-go, we like to phase those in over time," says Milicia. "We would've preferred a little more time to phase it in, but unfortunately we're not in control of that, so we'll deal with that when we get the final legislation."

The proposed tax increase for LaSalle's 2018 budget sits at 2.94% to make up an $883,000 shortfall. The proposed increase would add roughly $25 to the property tax bill on a $200,000 home.

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The proposed 2018 budget for the Town of LaSalle is presented at the regular meeting of council on October 10, 2017. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)