Region of Waterloo hikes taxes

Last week, the Region of Waterloo approved a 1.86 per cent tax increase in the 2014 budget. The increase is divided between a 1.05 per cent increase for regional services and a 0.81 per cent increase for police services.

A transit levy of 1.25 per cent was also approved, which was 0.25 per cent lower than proposed.

Cuts to services for low-income residents were rejected. Council did approve cutting 11 full time staff positions through layoffs and attrition.

Waterloo mayor, Brenda Halloran, supported the increase to allow for continued programs for low-income residents. Talking to <em>The Record</em>, she said, &ldquo;Poverty issues in our community are becoming more profound and more pronounced. We need to look at funding it.&rdquo;

The lower transit levy will result in levies for buses and the light rail train (LRT) to continue beyond 2018 according to council staff. Council will be looking at how to make up for the lost revenue in March.

The police services budget increased 141 million &mdash; 4.3 per cent more than in 2013. Also approved was a motion to develop a long-term master police plan. Waterloo councillor Sean Strickland supported the motion to <em>The Record</em>: &ldquo;Linking the strategic plan to the operational plan, three to five years is a really good tool for council (and the) police services board.&rdquo;

At the same meeting, regional council also approved formal agreements with the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo to share the costs of moving utilities and rebuilding streetscapes as part of Stage 1 of the LRT.

As a result of both increases, the average household will face a $32.38 increase on their property tax bill.&nbsp;