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Smiths Falls councillors balk at proposed tax and water hikes in budget

janet-koziel

By Chris Must
editorial@pdgmedia.ca

The closure of County Fair Mall will probably cost the town of Smiths Falls about $300,000 a year in commercial taxes, town councillor Chris Cummings told colleagues at a special meeting Nov. 16.

Councillors met to review the first draft of the proposed 2017 town budget, and found themselves facing declining revenues and rising costs. The town’s interim treasurer, Janet Koziel, presented an initial budget report recommending a 3.38 per cent tax increase, along with a 7 per cent hike in water rates and an 8 per cent wastewater rate increase.

Key dates

  • Public budget meeting on Nov. 30 at the  Smiths Falls Community Centre
  • Second draft of the budget is to be presented Dec. 12
  • Final budget approval Jan. 23.

Koziel also advised council that Smiths Falls’ share of the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, a provincial infrastructure grant, will decrease by $43,500 next year.

Noting that the combined tax and water rate hikes would add an additional $204 a year to an average assessment in town, Councillor Jay Brennan said, “I think that’s onerous on the taxpayer.”

Brennan said it will be impossible for the town to spend sufficiently on capital projects in the future without significant federal and provincial grants. It is up to council, he said, to “show a little discretion and recognition of the difficulty that people are having in living.”

“The number one comment I get around town is our taxes are too high,” said Councillor Joe Gallipeau, adding that high residential and commercial taxes may be driving away both new residents and businesses.

Acknowledging that town staff had prepared the budget in a clear and understandable manner, Cummings said it was obvious that unless taxes increase, services will have to be reduced.

Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Morris said the first draft of the budget presents a “worst-case scenario” because the town has applied for grants and won’t hear if the applications were successful until the end of the year. “We don’t have all the answers,” he said.

Morris said ongoing service reviews by town staff will identify further areas for cost savings.

The draft budget includes a list of capital priorities submitted by the heads of each department, ranging from $40,000 to replace video recording equipment in police cruisers to $137,000 for donations to eligible community groups. Some new items in the 2017 budget include funding for a new water and ice rescue service for the fire department, and $48,000 for the town’s share of funding for Canada 150th events next year. Substantial investment in upgrades to roads and water treatment facilities are also planned.

Council plans to hold a public meeting on the budget at the Smiths Falls Community Centre on Nov. 30. The second draft of the budget is to be presented Dec. 12, and the schedule calls for final approval Jan. 23.

In discussion at the Nov. 16 meeting, councillors agreed that an additional meeting should be scheduled to discuss the input received at the public meeting. Staff also suggested that the need to identify cost savings in order to reduce the need for tax increases might make it necessary to delay passage of the budget.

 

Photo by Chris Must: Interim Treasurer Janet Koziel presented her report on the first draft of Smiths Falls’ 2017 budget at a special meeting Nov. 16.

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Smiths Falls councillors balk at proposed tax and water hikes in budget

janet-koziel

By Chris Must
editorial@pdgmedia.ca

The closure of County Fair Mall will probably cost the town of Smiths Falls about $300,000 a year in commercial taxes, town councillor Chris Cummings told colleagues at a special meeting Nov. 16.

Councillors met to review the first draft of the proposed 2017 town budget, and found themselves facing declining revenues and rising costs. The town’s interim treasurer, Janet Koziel, presented an initial budget report recommending a 3.38 per cent tax increase, along with a 7 per cent hike in water rates and an 8 per cent wastewater rate increase.

Key dates

  • Public budget meeting on Nov. 30 at the  Smiths Falls Community Centre
  • Second draft of the budget is to be presented Dec. 12
  • Final budget approval Jan. 23.

Koziel also advised council that Smiths Falls’ share of the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, a provincial infrastructure grant, will decrease by $43,500 next year.

Noting that the combined tax and water rate hikes would add an additional $204 a year to an average assessment in town, Councillor Jay Brennan said, “I think that’s onerous on the taxpayer.”

Brennan said it will be impossible for the town to spend sufficiently on capital projects in the future without significant federal and provincial grants. It is up to council, he said, to “show a little discretion and recognition of the difficulty that people are having in living.”

“The number one comment I get around town is our taxes are too high,” said Councillor Joe Gallipeau, adding that high residential and commercial taxes may be driving away both new residents and businesses.

Acknowledging that town staff had prepared the budget in a clear and understandable manner, Cummings said it was obvious that unless taxes increase, services will have to be reduced.

Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Morris said the first draft of the budget presents a “worst-case scenario” because the town has applied for grants and won’t hear if the applications were successful until the end of the year. “We don’t have all the answers,” he said.

Morris said ongoing service reviews by town staff will identify further areas for cost savings.

The draft budget includes a list of capital priorities submitted by the heads of each department, ranging from $40,000 to replace video recording equipment in police cruisers to $137,000 for donations to eligible community groups. Some new items in the 2017 budget include funding for a new water and ice rescue service for the fire department, and $48,000 for the town’s share of funding for Canada 150th events next year. Substantial investment in upgrades to roads and water treatment facilities are also planned.

Council plans to hold a public meeting on the budget at the Smiths Falls Community Centre on Nov. 30. The second draft of the budget is to be presented Dec. 12, and the schedule calls for final approval Jan. 23.

In discussion at the Nov. 16 meeting, councillors agreed that an additional meeting should be scheduled to discuss the input received at the public meeting. Staff also suggested that the need to identify cost savings in order to reduce the need for tax increases might make it necessary to delay passage of the budget.

 

Photo by Chris Must: Interim Treasurer Janet Koziel presented her report on the first draft of Smiths Falls’ 2017 budget at a special meeting Nov. 16.

Share Button

One Response to “Smiths Falls councillors balk at proposed tax and water hikes in budget”

  1. I see you don’t monetize your website, don’t waste your traffic, you can earn additional cash every month because
    you’ve got high quality content. If you want to know
    how to make extra $$$, search for: Mrdalekjd methods for $$$


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