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Tax sale of land boosts operations surplus

12/11/30 — The single largest contribution to the surplus is $205,000 from the sale of properties that were in arrears for taxes.

After three years in arrears, the lands are vested by the Town and sold in a public tender. After the Town takes what it is owed in taxes, the remaining amounts are paid to the former owner. If the former owners are not found, the Town applies to the court to keep the money.

The next largest portion — and the sole item for which somebody can take credit — is $150,000 in savings on the collective agreement with unionized workers and a wage freeze for non-union staff.

Instead of a wage increase for union staff, they were paid a lump-sum of $500 each in 2012 and will be paid $750 in 2013. Approximately 80 of the Town’s 130 employees are in the union.

Mother Nature was kind to Fort Erie with a warm winter and little snow which resulted in a $100,000 reduction in plowing costs and $84,000 savings on utilities.

Weather conditions over the next month could change the situation, but the expected savings take into account typical conditions of the final months of the year.

Crime may not pay, but bylaw infractions and traffic violations sure do. The Town will receive $124,000 from the Niagara Region courts joint board of management. It’s $50,000 more than expected.

The revenues come from payment of fines for provincial offences after expenses. This ‘profit’ was well over $1 million in 2012 and is divvied up among the 12 local municipalities in the Region according to population.

Provincial offences court activities in Niagara are the fastest growing in the province and are related to an increase in police enforcement of Highway Traffic Act violations.

The Region and some other institutions do not pay property tax. Instead, they make payments-in-lieu of taxes which amounted to $228,000 in 2012 or $25,000 more than expected for new sewage facilities.

The surpluses are mitigated by shortfalls. The Town expected to see $175,000 in “supplemental” taxes but fell short by $56,000. These are additional taxes paid when assessments are increased by property improvements and new construction.

Facility rentals — mainly the arenas — are down by $84,000 with the total for the end of the year projected to be $692,000.

Bingo licence revenues are down by $18,000 on total revenue of $471,000.

Building and planning fees are also short by approximately $17,000 on total revenue of $575,000.

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