© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
Mayor Greg Dionne gestures with the order paper during Monday’s budget committee meeting, during which city finance director Joe Day announced that administration has been able to keep the increase at the 4.5 per cent they’d initially proposed.
City coffers still face a 4.5 per cent tax increase this year, city finance director Joe Day announced at Monday’s final budget committee meeting.
This, despite the budget city council ended up with being $389,300 greater than the one city administration initially proposed.
“We really wanted to address the need to invest in facilities and our infrastructure, and our proposed budget had a provision for reserve of approximately $1 million,” Day explained.
By paring this new uncommitted reserve down by the difference between administration’s proposed budget and city council’s changes, it remains tentatively set at a 4.5 per cent tax increase.
That said, the uncommitted provision has been reduced to $609,220 -- a cache that Coun. Ted Zurakowski and Coun. Charlene Miller passively requested funding from at Monday’s meeting.
The John. M. Cuelenaere Public Library’s request of $550,000 toward capital needs was never addressed by city council, Zurakowski noted.
“I am asking for consideration so that the (library) board can plan prudently to make upgrades in a planned manner moving forward (in) taking care of the needs of that building,” he said, noting that there’s the potential for major building problems on the horizon.
“I’m not prepared to make it as a motion, but I’d be interested in discussion and if there’s no uptake then we can simply move on.”
With Zurakowski’s comment failing to spark discussion, it was dropped.
The same thing happened with Miller’s request for the extension of public transportation’s Saturday hours -- a request she made without attaching a formal motion. As such, public transportation remains at a status-quo level of service.
In the end, council opted on Monday to keep the budget exactly as they left it at Friday’s budget committee meeting, which capped off two days of changes to administration’s proposed budget.
We really wanted to address the need to invest in facilities and our infrastructure, and our proposed budget had a provision for reserve of approximately $1 million. Joe Day
Although some things like a west hill spray park were included in the tentatively approved budget, Dionne noted after Monday’s meeting that nothing has been set in stone.
“Nothing is actually finalized until we pass the bylaw, so council still has two or three meetings,” he said, adding that even if projects are approved in the final budget it’s still not a promise they’ll get done.
“It’s still under scrutiny, there still have to be reports coming in,” he said. “Just because it’s approved in the budget doesn’t mean you’re going to get it.”
Dionne concluded that the annual budget is “more of a guide for us to go by, and hopefully that will work out this year.”
The next cycle of council meetings will determine how the taxpayers will be affected by this year’s budget increase, Dionne said.
This cycle will begin with a preparatory executive committee meeting on April 7 and a city council meeting on April 14.
“We could look at changing the base tax, or there are all kinds of formulas,” he said.
Although the $189 roadways base tax (a varying higher rate for commercial properties) has a committed project linked to it, the city’s other base tax of $60 for residential properties remains uncommitted to any one specific thing.
Dionne said that he anticipates the $60 base tax will come up with city council in the near future, with the base tax directed to a specific project.