budget comparisons | London Free Press

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As Londoners face the likely prospect of an 8.7 per cent property tax increase in 2024, a roundup of tax rates in other Southwestern Ontario communities suggests residents in the region’s largest city are getting hit far harder in the pocketbook by their local government, which one expert suggests makes sense given “a number of factors” facing London. LFP’s Brian Williams has the details on the budgets (and tax hikes) politicians in several local cities and towns have approved

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TILLSONBURG

Tillsonburg’s budget was approved at a Feb. 12 council meeting, with what the town has called a “modest” 4.91 per cent tax increase in 2024, which adds $96.21 to the average homeowner’s tax bill – “average” being a home assessed at $237,000. The growing municipality of about 16,000 has a municipal budget for 2024 is $51.8 million, about $15 million more than 2023. “Is 4.9 where I would want it to be? Probably not, I’d like to see it lower,” said Mayor Deb Gilvesy. “I know the stresses that the citizens are facing, but during these challenging times, it came in pretty efficient.”


WOODSTOCK

Woodstock’s proposed budget is approximately $98 million, and city council is set to approve it March 21. Woodstock, a city of about 40,000 people, is proposing a 4.86 per cent tax increase, which would add $135 to the average home, “average” being one assessed at $267,000. “Well, I think budgets are uncomfortable to begin with, especially in this, you know, financial climate,” said Mayor Jerry Acchione. “We’ve got to look at the growing needs of the citizens.”


STRATHROY-CARADOC

Mayor Colin Grantham and town staff have repeatedly refused to detail what proposed tax hike faces citizens in 2024 and how big the proposed municipal budget is at this stage. There is no deadline for the budget’s approval, despite the fact many other neighbouring municipalities have already approved their 2024 spending plan or have nearly done so. Grantham says he feels the community is facing the same pressures as other communities, such as infrastructure debt and inflation.


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ST. THOMAS

St. Thomas kept its tax increase “good and low” for citizens, said Mayor Joe Preston. The tax hike in 2024 is 2.95 per cent, which adds $88 to an average St. Thomas homeowner’s tax bill, “average” being a home assessed at $204,000. The city of 39,000 has a 2024 municipal budget of $207 million. “As to the 2.95 per cent, we certainly have said we needed to keep it fair, under inflation for taxpayers,” Preston said.


ST. MARYS

The 2024 municipal budget in St. Marys is nearly $29 million, including a 4.1 per cent tax hike that adds $141 to the average home’s tax bill, “average” being a home assessed at $262,000. Mayor Al Strathdee said municipal governments are facing both social and financial struggles and wanted to keep the tax hike closer to three per cent. “I think, you know, my peers in other centres such as Stratford and London, and so forth, I feel for them as well because it’s hard for the public to understand the pressures we’re all under,” Strathdee said.


LONDON

London politicians have approved budget that includes an 8.7 per cent tax hike in 2024, which would add $286 to the property tax bill of the owner of an “average” London home – average being one assessed at $252,000. City council technically approved a four-year budget that calls for annual tax hikes of 8.7 per cent in 2024, 8.9 per cent in 2025, 5.8 per cent in 2026 and 6.8 per cent in 2027. One observer says this year’s 8.7 per cent jump is “significant” but makes sense. “There’s a combination of factors,” said Martin Horak of Western University’s local governance program. That includes the fact London is growing, which creates big-city problems like homelessness and pressure on public transit.

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The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada


How does London’s tax hike compare across Southwestern Ontario?

  • London: 8.7 per cent, or an additional $286 for the average home
  • Windsor: 3.9 per cent. (An assessment for the average home was not released by the city)
  • Hamilton: 5.8 per cent, or an additional $286 for the average home
  • Kitchener: 3.9 per cent, or an additional $124 for the average home
  • City of Waterloo: 6.1 per cent, or an additional $91 for the average home
  • Cambridge: 7.2 per cent, or an additional $112 for the average home
  • Region of Waterloo: 6.9 per cent, or an additional $165 for the average home

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