Lambton County Council Chambers on Broadway Street in Wyoming.  (Photo by County of Lambton)Lambton County Council Chambers on Broadway Street in Wyoming. (Photo by County of Lambton)

Proposed 2024 county budget includes 5.5 per cent tax hike

Lambton County councillors got a look at the 2024 draft budget Wednesday.

County Treasurer Larry Palarchio presented the spending plan during a Committee of the Whole meeting in Wyoming.

He said with new assessment growth of $1.42 million factored in, the net tax increase is 5.5 per cent.

That represents an increase of $26 per $100,000 of residential assessment, not including municipal and education taxes.

Palarchio told council it's been a very difficult and challenging budget year for municipalities across Ontario, and Lambton County is no different.

"We were challenged by COLA wage and benefit impacts across all service areas, escalating insurance cost pressures, particularly in social housing," said Palarchio. "We have interest rate impacts, we are not immune. On the positive side, we're generating more investment income because of our reserve fund levels, but on the flip side our debt servicing costs have increased by approximately a couple hundred thousand dollars this year."

The $283.7 million budget includes strategic investment in the county's number one priority, affordable housing.

Palarchio said it's recommended $3 million be added to the affordable housing reserve fund, up from $2 million added in 2023.

"If we left the same level of contribution this year, we would be at 4.40 per cent, however, we are recommending a $3 million amount or $1 million more," he said. "So there's a $3 million contribution in 2024, there was a $2 million contribution in 2023 and in 2022 there was $1.2 million. So in totality, we put $6.2 million into our savings account for affordable housing initiatives. It allowed us to have a source of funding in our TCA capital plan for $4 million worth of county dollars for additional housing units."

A recommendation for a traffic circle, or roundabout, at Petrolia Line and Kimball Road is also included in the 2024 budget. That's estimated at over $3 million.

Lambton County budget deliberations are scheduled for Wednesday, March 6.

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