TBL budget: small tax increase, bigger debt

TBL residents will see their taxes increase by 1.5% or an extra penny per $100 valuation. The non-residential rate remains at $1.49. That’s for 2018. Next year will be a different story.

The town is doubling its debt this year from $7.4M to almost $15M. The money will be used to redo neglected infrastructure such as Victoria (water and sewage), Mill and Fairmount roads, the Town Hall building and water system on Knowlton Rd as well as the water and sewage system in West Brome.

The Fire Department will also acquire a ladder truck at a cost of close to $900,000. Financing will come from grants ($4.2M), the rest, $7.5M from tax dollars. With a new valuation roll, next year will likely mean bigger tax hikes. Financing the debt will cost the town around $917,000 this year, a little less than last year.

The water and sewage and waste taxes are going down slightly. So, a $300,000 property with services will pay $12 less in taxes this year; one without services will face a $28 increase.

Operations expenses

The town will hire a communications expert this year and will also increase salaries by 2%. Feasibility studies for the revamping of central Knowlton are budgeted at $75,000 in 2018 and Renaissance Lac Brome will see its grant increased by $20,000.

Police services

Police services will cost $1.9M in 2018, an increase that would have been worse if not for a $250,000 grant from Quebec. TBL is still negotiating with Bromont to share police services between the two municipalities. The National Assembly will have to vote special legislation to allow for that. Before this can happen, TBL has to demonstrate that its situation is unique and will not create a precedent. No action is expected before the provincial elections in October of this year.

Longer term

Reconstruction of the Blackwood dam will wait until next year as well as the water and sewage system at West Brome trailer park.

A $900,000 envelope is set aside for building the Trestle Cove path in the winter of 2019.

Overall the town expects operating revenues of $13.6M and expenses of $12.1M, an increase of more than 3% over last year.