The Town of Morris will be spending $817,000 dollars more than last year. Council has approved a $4.9 million dollar budget for 2023, representing a 19.6% increase over last year.
"In fact, it's probably the largest jump we've seen as a municipality in my time as Mayor," said Scott Crick, who is on his second term in office.
The biggest contributor to the drastic increase, noted the Mayor, is road repairs that were budgeted to happen last year, but didn't. "(That) would have made last year's budget three-hundred thousand dollars higher than it was," he explained.
"Typically, in a big year we've done anywhere from two-hundred-fifty to three-hundred thousand dollars in road work," added Crick. "I believe we're budgeted almost seven-hundred thousand for what we're planning to do in 2023."
A majority of the road repairs will happen within two blocks of Charles St. West.
"They're in fairly rough shape and they need to be done," said Crick, noting the hope is to get to Charles St. East in 2024.
Like any other municipality, the Town of Morris was not immune to the impacts of high inflation.
"We have seen some natural increases in a number of areas where there's simply no containment of the costs," explained Crick, noting they could no longer ignore certain kinds of inflationary pressures. "A lot of that relates directly to things like public works, whether its salaries or fuel. Same thing at the administrative side and even to some extent, interest rates that we're seeing on the bit of debt that the Town still does have outstanding. Every one of those things isn't a giant amount, but together they do tend to add up."
In order to make up the vast difference in year-over-year spending, the Municipality will be dipping into its reserve accounts.
"We've done very well over the last four years. I believe we've turned a surplus every year, despite the fact that we've held tax rates consistent and actually reduced them by four per cent a couple of years back," stated Crick. Those surpluses were stowed away into reserves. "When we looked at the budget this year, we saw that some of the surpluses weren't necessarily surpluses. Again, we did operate fairly leanly but we'd also been deferring some of those expenses. Now, those expenses, it is time to spend the money."
As for taxes, property assessments in Morris went up an average of 9.6%. As a result, the mill rate has been lowered 1.065 mills. Crick explained, this means taxes on properties with values that went up 4% or less will remain the same or go down, and those over 4% will see an increase, which he hopes will be fairly modest.