County council to begin 2022 budget deliberations with a proposed 1.73% tax hike

AM800-NEWS-Essex-County-Council-December-2020

It's budget time at the County of Essex.

County council will meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss the 2022 budget which calls for a 1.73% tax increase — that's more than triple compared to last year's 0.49%.

Kingsville mayor Nelson Santos says a number of factors are to blame including inflation, rising insurance costs and staffing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Santos says, while there is an increase, there's also a lot of good spending in the budget.

"It talks about new partnerships in affordable housing, it deals with the continued investment for the new regional hospital, continued investment in our active transportation system and certainly responding to our regional health with our EMS, there's new investments there."

He says he'll be asking a lot of questions when it comes to infrastructure funding.

"I do have some concerns around our investment on additional infrastructure. The investments that we have traditionally made are kind of being scaled back this year. I think that'll be good discussion at the table and then maybe we can borrow it from another part of the budget so that it balances out a little bit."

Santos says council needs to keep the pandemic in mind during deliberations.

"We have to look at what kind of investments are we making in other areas that can potentially be put on hold for one year. Maybe that'll help us reduce that number. I mean, we're still not out of the woods in terms of our economy. I'd like to have a good discussion about trying to hold the line as close as we can."

The proposed 1.73% tax hike amounts to $8.47 on a home assessed at $200,000.

County council meets Wednesday at 4pm to begin budget deliberations.

— with files from AM800's Rob Hindi