Bedford reduces tax rates, focuses spending on water infrastructure

By Ruby Irene Pratka – Local Journalism Initiative

On Dec. 13, the town of Bedford adopted its 2022 budget, with a significant decrease in taxation rates to compensate for the recent increase in property values.

“This budget was developed to limit the financial impact of the [property value] situation on Bedford residents,” said Richard Joyal, the town’s director general, in a written statement. “According to the new assessment rolls, property values on our territory have gone up by 17.3 per cent, which could have had a significant impact on the tax burden. That’s why the tax rate has been significantly reduced.”

In 2021, the residential property tax rate in Bedford was $0.93 per $100 of evaluation value. The 2022 rate is $0.81 per $100. As a result, residential property taxes are expected to rise by an average of $56, or 2.31 per cent.

For business owners, the tax rate will be reduced from $1.80 to $1.60 of evaluation value. Taxes are expected to go up by 0.36 per cent. “This measure was taken to support small businesses that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Joyal.

User fees for utilities will remain at their 2021 rates.

“In the demanding context of a health crisis, the town of Bedford was able to limit rises in taxes despite the rise in the consumer price index,” said Mayor Claude Dubois. He also emphasized the importance of controlling the impact of the rise in property values.

The 2022 budget for the town of Bedford is just over $5.9 million, a 6.43 per cent increase from 2021. Joyal explained that the budget was balanced and it had not been necessary to cut into previous years’ surplus to balance the budget. The city’s anticipated expenses decreased slightly (-0.87%) compared to 2021.

The town estimates that it will need to invest around $7.7 million in various infrastructure projects, including $4.5 million in improvements to drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. According to the town’s three-year infrastructure plan, the replacement of the water intake at the town’s filtration plant is expected to cost $1.65 million; further improvements to the water filtration and purification plants are expected to cost $360,000 in 2022, with $175,000 of additional expenses in 2023 and 2024.

“The replacement of the water intake at the filtration plant and [the refurbishing of] the water infrastructure on Dutch and Clayes streets are among our major projects in 2022,” said Joyal. The expansion of the fire station is also in the cards; a request for a government grant has been submitted on behalf of the four municipalities concerned. “The city is proactive in terms of applying for subsidies; an estimated $3 million in government grants will contribute to the financing of our public works in 2022,” said Joyal.

Also in terms of public works, the city plans to convert streetlights to LED technology at a cost of $265,000. Due to long-term savings in energy costs, the city anticipates that this project will turn a profit after five years. A sidewalk will also be built along Rue Saint-Joseph at a cost of $50,000.

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