Tax levy expected to increase as LaSalle prepares to discuss budget


Budget deliberations are around the corner for councillors in LaSalle, and the financial pressures of the past year are expected to have a big impact.

Officials say the proposed 2024 budget and business plan documents are in the final stages of completion, and will be released on November 15.

They'll be presented to council during budget deliberation sessions, which are scheduled to take place on Wednesday, December 6 and Thursday, December 7, if required.

If approved, the proposed 2024 budget would see the municipal levy increase by $3,575,100.

That would translate to about $193 per year or $16 per month for the average residential home within LaSalle. 

The increase takes into account the effect of assessment growth, or new construction, within the municipality.

But officials note the province wide property assessment update, which was originally scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2021, has been postponed for the fourth consecutive year. 

Specifically, that means property valuations for 2024 including newly constructed properties will continue to be set at January 1, 2016 values. 

As a result, officials say this continues to apply pressure to the municipal tax rate. 

Mayor Crystal Meloche says outside influences mean it's going to be a tough budget year.

"According to what's been put out as of right now we can absolutely look at an increase. It's been a tough year as everyone knows, with inflation I think in 2022 was 6.8% which is the highest annual rate of inflation in decades. The Town is no different than a residential homeowner feeling that pinch," she said.

The Canadian inflation rate for 2023 is 3.8% year-over-year. 

A significant portion of the overall budget is transferred to reserves to fund municipal infrastructure related projects.

Officials say costs relating to these projects may be more accurately reflected in the non-residential construction price index and industrial price index, which have increased significantly more than the consumer price index over the past three years. 

Meloche says those increases, along with inflation, have made it harder for the Town to continue to do projects that are needed beyond infrastructure and road improvements.

"When you look at the budget that's actually being presented to us, there's not a whole lot of extras in there. It's working towards our Waterfront Landing, it's our Fire Masterplan, it's a Police Financial plan, our Asset Management and Capital Funding, Stormwater and Drainage plans. Things that are extremely important to a municipality is what's creating an increase in this budget."

She says they'll have to sit down and go through the budget line by line to try and reduce the overall increase as much as they can without impacting those initiatives.

The report to council lays out that the proposed municipal levy increase would provide sufficient funding to move forward with the Town's goals. 

Should the proposed tax rate be reduced, it could provide significant pressure on future budgets or may cause many of the initiatives to have to be scaled back or delayed.

Meloche says they're encouraging residents to come forward with their concerns when they host an open house at the end of the month.

"We will have members of council and administration there to be able to address our residents, answer any questions they may have about the budget or the budget process, explain things to them more one on one," she continued. "We want them to be able to understand the budget, and so that's why for the second year we want to have an open house and invite them to come see us."

The Town of LaSalle is planning to host the public open house prior to the budget deliberation sessions at the Vollmer Recreation Centre on November 29.