Residents in Low are facing a near 20 per cent tax increase in 2023.
At a special council meeting on Dec. 22, 2022, Low Mayor Carole Robert presented the budget of $3,442,951 for 2023, which includes a 19.7 per cent increase for median value homeowners.
Property value assessments were up an average of 40 per cent for Low residents, meaning a property valued at $138,378 in 2022 would be assessed at $194,178 in 2023. Homeowners with a home valued at $194,178 would pay $2367 in taxes in 2023, as opposed to $1977 in 2022, which represents a 19.7 per cent increase.
The three-year spending program for 2023-2024-2025 was adopted unanimously. Voting for the budget were councillors Joanne Mayer, Maureen Rice, Maureen McEvoy, and Mayor Carole Robert; voting against were councillors Lee Angus and Luc Thivierge; and Ghyslain Robert did not attend the meeting. Also present at the meeting were director-general and clerk-treasurer Sandra Martineau and two Low residents.
Councillor Rice mentioned that she was in favour of the municipality’s budget overall, but disagreed with increased costs for the Sûreté du Quebec, the MRC Vallée-de-la-Gatineau and waste collection.
Funds were allocated for work on several stretches of road including $248,227 for a one-kilometre section of Chemin McDonald. Other proposed spending included work on the Low and Fieldville pumping stations and improvements to Gatineau River access in 2024 and 2025.
The costs of collecting garbage, recycling and compost increased dramatically. The Low budget contained a 121.4 per cent increase for waste management, up from $256,911 in 2022 to $568,743 in 2023. Residents will be paying more than double what they did for that service: $556 in 2023 compared to $251 the year before. Director-general Martineau stated the increases were not related to the new composting program specifically, but rather that waste collection costs were up “on a general basis.”
To balance out the 40 per cent increase in property assessments, the municipality lowered the mill rate to 46.5 per cent — from 1.057/$100 of property evaluation in 2022 to 0.5655/$100 of property evaluation in 2023. The mill rate is the municipal tax rate, which is based on the total value of property within a municipality’s jurisdiction to provide the necessary tax revenue to cover projected expenses.
Despite the decreased mill rate, many tax payers will still see their bill go up 40 per cent. When asked about this significant tax increase, Martineau commented that property value increases varied throughout the municipality which will in turn affect the amount of tax increases residents will have to pay. Still, for the median homeowner, the 19.7 increase is steep. In comparison, La Pêche and Chelsea residents will experience a 3.5 per cent municipal tax increase in 2023.
Water taxes remained the same, at a flat fee of $500 per household per year.
Low experienced yet another boil water advisory on Jan. 19 relating to work being done on the pumps in the municipal pumping station. Water supply issues have plagued Low since July 2022 and a long string of boil water advisories or interruptions in supply have left residents, including Michèle Logue Wakeling, feeling frustrated.
On Jan. 18 she noted, “last night, it took almost 30 minutes to run a tub full of water for a bath. Sometimes our water pressure is almost down to a trickle. I was given to understand that the problems would be fixed by the beginning of November 2022. I think residents of Brooks Road have been very patient, but I can confirm that my patience is quickly running out.”
The boil water advisory was lifted by the municipality on the morning of Jan. 30.
Low residents can bring questions about their 2023 municipal tax bill to the next regular council meeting at Heritage Hall in Low on Feb. 6.