Elizabethtown-Kitley facing 5.3% tax rate hike

Elizabethtown-Kitley facing 5.3% tax rate hike

Breadcrumb Trail Links News Local News Elizabethtown-Kitley Mayor Brant Burrow. (FILE PHOTO) jpg, contents of the BT article

A budget proposal in the Elizabethtown-Kitley community would result in a 5.31 percent tax rate increase for residents, the highest increase in recent memory.

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Budget deliberations began this week at a special council meeting, where ward treasurer Christine Martin presented the first draft of the 2023 budget, kickstarting a process that will determine how much money the ward will collect from taxpayers and for what it is issued.

The proposed budget would increase the tax rate for residents by 5.3 percent, a $64.35 increase from the median home valuation of $201,000, Martin confirmed Wednesday — though the actual amount people will pay varies by value of their homes depends on how valued it is by the community real estate appraisal company.

Mayor Brant Burrow said after years of little to no rate increases in the community and beyond, the five percent figure may seem like a significant jump. But the community is facing rising costs and a mountain of community upgrades, so he said it’s no longer realistic to count on such low rates.

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“If people just look at this year, that’s not the whole picture. It’s not reality and it’s not really fair,” Burrow said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

“We have kept taxes artificially low in the past at the expense of the future. And the piper is here to get paid now.”

The community recently discovered an infrastructure gap in a report that identified millions of dollars worth of upgrades needed to roads and other community properties. Lower tax hikes over the past few decades mean not enough money has been put into these areas, Burrow said.

“We should be putting twice as much money into our streets and our other assets than we have in the last few decades,” Burrow added.

This urgent need for community upgrades means they need to invest in the community, he said, but they can’t take drastic action to raise the necessary taxpayer dollars. You have to take it incrementally, he said, and 5.31 percent is a good place to start.

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“To suddenly change that number within a year is completely unrealistic,” he said.

“It’s going to take 10 or 20 years to solve a problem that took 20 or 30 years to get here.”

According to Burrow, the cost of living — particularly fuel prices — along with rising insurance rates across the municipal sector and raises in salaries to keep up with inflation, are among the biggest expenses this year.

“Those three items make up a good chunk of the 5.3 percent you’re looking at right now,” he said.

The tax levy, which relates to all monies the community collects to fund operating and capital expenditures, is expected to increase 6.53 percent to just over $7,323,452 million, an increase of $449,084 over the corresponds to the previous year.

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The proposed operating budget increased 5.82 percent year over year to $5,724,784. The operating budget includes items such as salaries and the provision of community services such as landfill operations, fire and police services, and libraries.

The capital budget is expected to cost $1,598,668, a 9.18 percent increase over 2022.

The budgeted money would be used for several projects throughout the community, including repairs to the council building, new fire equipment, and upgrades to some theme parks such as Blaine Healey, Clifford E. Hall, Rows Corners, and Kitley Soccer Park.

Proposed road projects under consideration include Hallecks Road South, Airport Road, Kitley Line 3, Kinch Street, Debruge Road, Lockwood Road and Kitley Line 8.

Burrow said the budget is not set in stone and the next meeting is scheduled for February 6, where they will go over the details of public works and waste management as part of the budget.

“We might shave a little more, but our goal was five (percent),” he said.

“I’m not going to split hairs. I think that’s pretty good.”

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