Township of Wellesley defends hefty tax increase

By Brad Kraemer

“We've learned from this, I've learned from this. There was a saying awhile ago, 'we can always do better, and we will do better' and I'm committed to that.”

Mayor of Wellesley Township Joe Nowak admitted on the Mike Farwell show that in hindsight, the public was not made aware enough of the various costs when it came to the Wellesley Recreation Complex in the 2023 budget.

The township has been under scrutiny for a 14 per cent property tax increase. Council was already discussing a rise of 6.2 per cent, but 7.7 per cent was added to that hike, mostly due to the complex. The average tax bill in 2023 will increase the township portion of property taxes by almost $180. 

“Nobody really appreciates a tax increase,” said Nowak. “It's unfortunate that we had these issues come together at the same time. The perfect storm is the way it's been described. Moving forward, we have a fantastic project on the go and there's going to be something for everyone in that project.”

Nowak added that there have been protests but also people who understand the position the township is in.

“The community is divided. I can understand that, I can appreciate that, I can appreciate the concern, and we're going to do whatever we can to address it.”

When asked whether Council would invite those who have expressed concerns to a public meeting, Nowak said it would have to be a true public meeting that follows their procedural by-laws. He also said the invitation to talk with him has been open for awhile now. 

“I've said they can come into the township at any time. If they have any issues or any clarification that they would like to have done, we'll be glad to sit down – myself and our CAO – we'll go over it. Maybe groups of 10 or 12 people at a time, we'll be happy to do that. That invitation has been made several times.”

Deferring the construction of the complex was also an option, but the the $16.1 million in funding that was promised by the province would have been at risk. 

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