June 21, 2018

Erin water services outsourced

Erin’s drinking water systems are under new management.
The town signed an interim agreement on June 11 with the Ontario Clean Water Agency, a crown corporation that will now deal with all aspects of local drinking water quality, delivery and infrastructure maintenance.
“As we transition with OCWA, we would like to express to residents that there will be no delay or interruptions in regular water services,” said Communications Officer Jessica Spina.
The systems in Hillsburgh and Erin village will continue to be owned by the municipality, with town council responsible for oversight.
Members of the water department staff who expressed an interest in continuing to work on the local systems as employees of OCWA have been offered positions, while others chose not to join the Ontario Public Service.
“We would like to thank the Water Department for the work and commitment to service they provided to the town and wish the individuals the best in their future endeavours,” said Spina.
On April 24, council voted to enter negotiations with OCWA, based on a bid that promised savings of more than $200,000 in a five-year deal. This will allow more money to be saved for water infrastructure improvements and offset the need for water rate increases.
 “There is tremendous savings in this, and we will be looking to them for advice on wastewater,” said Mayor Al Alls. “They were extremely pleased with the system, that it was well-run.”
Sections of the local systems are antiquated, prone to freeze-ups and leakage, and have been in need of replacement for some time. The town is searching for new well sites to meet provincial requirements for redundancy, and to support new residential and business growth.
OCWA operates water and wastewater systems for more than 180 clients. They will now share liability with the town for any problems with the water systems.
The agreement was signed by the CAO and mayor. The final contract had not been signed last week, presented to council or made available to the public. Alls expects that to happen soon.
Customers can continue to call 519-830-8600 for any after-hours drinking water emergencies. For water billing and water meter support during regular hours of operation, call Town Hall at 519-855-4407 ext. 221. 

June 14, 2018

Erin property taxes declining 1.8%

Assessment growth in other parts of Wellington County is lightening the tax burden on Erin residents, who will see an overall reduction of 1.8 per cent on their tax bills.
The total tax on a house assessed at $500,000 would decline about $100.
Council passed the tax rate bylaw on June 5, after a report by Director of Finance Ursula D’Angelo said the estimated savings (not including the impact of property value changes) would total $19.99 for each $100,000 of residential assessment. 
In December, council had considered enacting a .5 per cent decline in town taxes (which are 25.94 per cent of the total) using new assessment revenue of $282,665. Instead they put some of that money into the infrastructure reserve fund and settled on a .5 per cent increase.
That means for local purposes, the town will collect $6.6 million, with residents paying $1.42 more for each $100,000 of assessment value. That increase is more than offset by decreases in county and education taxes.
In January, the county passed their 2018 budget with an average tax increase of 2.5 per cent, but the percentage varies in each local municipality. In Erin it is a decrease of 1.94 per cent, or $12.41 for each $100,000 of assessment. The town will collect $14.2 million on behalf of Wellington County, which is 55.73 per cent of local taxes.  
Erin has had assessment value growth on existing properties and new construction. Other Wellington municipalities, however, have had even more assessment growth, so they are paying a slightly higher share of county taxes than they used to.
The Erin education tax totals $4.7 million, which is 18.33 per cent of the total. It is declining 5 per cent, or $9.00 for each $100,000 of assessment.
The proportion of property taxes paid by residential owners remains high, but it has declined from 87.7 per cent in 2017 to 87.5 in 2018. The commercial share is down slightly, but the industrial and farmland shares are up slightly.
The 2017 assessment roll shows the total value of all Town of Erin properties at $2,464,384,051. Final tax bills go out in mid-July, with final installments due on August 31 and October 31.