Hudson’s true tax load

What is the Town of Hudson’s average tax increase for 2017?

Finance committee mouthpiece Ron Goldenberg told the West Island Gazette the increase was in the neighbourhood of 1.6 per cent on the average home, excluding tariffs. (My boldface).

According to my calculations based on a comparison of the estimated 2016 and 2017 tax bills of nine Hudson homes, the true increase is close to 7%. (See table below)

The 2017 budget establishes four property tax rates – residential (76 cents per $100), agricultural (ditto), non-residential (81.47 cents per $100) and vacant land (91.22 cents per $100).

Then there’s something called the Total Debt Service tax – approximately nine cents per $100. This pays the debt service on 13 loan bylaws covering everything from the new firehall to culvert replacement but excluding water and sewer bylaws.

So all property owners pay two taxes – property tax and that TDS tax. To figure out your property tax bill, multiply your evaluation minus the last two digits by the property tax rate which applies to you. (Example: if your home is evaluated at $459,500, multiply 4595 by .76.) Do the same with the .0885 TDS tax. Add the two to get your basic tax bill.

Which brings us to those tariffs.

Let’s begin with water. Everyone on town water pays three tariffs. One depends on where you live. For most Hudson residents, it’s $137. Hudson Valleys and Alstonvale residents pay $287. West end residents connected to Rigaud’s Pointe à Raquette system pay $$375.

The second tariff ($78 in 2017, $65 last year) covers the debt service on Bylaw 504, which represents most of the roughly $8 million cost of a new well (now failing), the water filtration plant next to Harwood Blvd. west of Cameron and improvements to the town’s aqueducts.

The third tariff ($57 in 2017; $55.40 in 2016) is also levied on every resident on town water. Described as a tariff to repay interest and principal on Bylaw 554, this one is questionable because it relates to both the sewage treatment plant and the water filtration plant.

Next: waste management. The 2017 bill for green and blue box collection is $266 per household, up from $195 in 2016.

Now to sewer tariffs and one of Hudson’s tax fairness issues.

First, the tariffs. Residential property owners pay $314. Businesses pay between $320 and $2,750. For example, most commercial spaces pay the minimum. Hair salons, dry cleaners, pool and spa businesses, caterers and farms pay $470. Bakeries, restaurants, bars, garages and daycares pay $750. Pharmacies and grocery stores pay $2,500. Golf clubs, the yacht club, car washes and the ferry pay $2,750.

Everyone connected to the sewer system also pays $116 to cover the cost of loan Bylaw 505.

Approximately 750 of Hudson’s 2,200 doors are able to connect to the sewer system. That number includes Hudson’s three schools and both downtown churches as well as municipal buildings, but these big users are exempt from all taxes and tariffs. In lieu of taxes, the town gets a pittance from Quebec.
Now, the fairness issue.

Ten years after the sewer system’s completion, a third, or approximately 250 doors, still have not connected. According to Goldenberg, those 250 doors are exempt from sewer tariffs because they choose not to connect. If you knew you could save $436 a year on your tax bill, would you connect?

Despite repeated urgings, three administrations have refused to order reluctant sewer-dwellers to connect. Provincial regulations oblige the town to ensure all septic tanks are pumped out every second year, but many installations are due for replacement. This is why residents of Hazelwood and Kilteevan agreed to loan bylaws that cost homeowners an additional $1,150 and $1,141 respectively. Previous administrations have offered similar options other sectors of the community.

Hudson’s businesses are now on notice that the town proposes to install water meters at the property owner’s expense and tax water consumption.  Goldenberg and town manager J.P. Roy revealed at the December budget evening that the town has no plans to meter water consumption in the residential sector even though it accounts for 95% of the town’s total consumption.

I’ll get to the commercial sector when the town provides me with requested data.

All tax data by address is available online via the town’s website. The following figures are for a sampling of nine homes throughout the municipality.  Figures may be garbled, depending on the platform you’re using.

Address          Valuation         Property tax     Other taxes/tariffs*     % change        Total

Residential/ agricultural                                                                             +6.7% average
Mil rate 2017@.7602/$100
Mil rate 2016@.6973/$100

West end agricultural        $433,800       $3,300                   $650 (6,7)      +6.8% $3,950
2016                                                                  $3,025                   $672                             $3,697

West end                                 $244,900         $1,862                $482 (6,7)         +8% $2,344
2016                                     $1,708                $464                                                             $2,172

West end                    $1,145,900         $8,711                $1,014 (6,7)               +5.8% $9,991
2016                                                           $7,990               $1,455                                      $9,445

Hudson urban                $463,700        $3,525                 $810 (1,3,5,6,7)       +6.8% $4,335
2016                                                             $3,233                 $825                                       $4,058

Hudson urban             $396,900        $3,017                 $889 (1,3,5,6,7)         +5.6%  $3,906
2016                                       $2768                  $850                                                              $3,605

Hudson centre            $440,900      $3,352     $907 (1,2,3,4,5,6,)                  +6.9%  $4,259
2016                                                        $3,074     $909                                                         $3,983

Hudson urban                      $533,000       $4,052               $910 (1,3,5,6,7)        +7% $4,962
2016                                                              $3,716                    $901                                     $4,617

* Other residential taxes/tariffs

1: Water networks tariffs: Urban, $136.96; Hudson Valleys, $286.57; Pointe à Raquette, $375
2016: $97.50; Hudson Valleys, $408.50; Pointe à Raquette, $331.73
2: Urban sewer network tariff $314
2016: $345
3: Bylaw 504 (water) $78
2016: $65
4: Bylaw 505 (sewer) $116
2016: $108.62
5: Bylaw 554 (sewage, water treatment operational activities) $56.53
2106: $55.40
6: Total debt service (13 other loan bylaws) @$.0885/$100
2016: @.11/$100
7: trash and recycling $266
2016: $195

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