January 10, 2019 8:04 am

Brockville mayor wants to keep municipal tax increase close to 2 per cent

Brockville mayor wants to keep municipal tax increase close to 2%.

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Brockville city council will hunker down for another round of budget deliberations Thursday night.

After the original budget presented by city staff proposed a 4.19 per cent increase, the city’s corporate services director, David Dick, will be presenting a revised budget pushed down to roughly a 2.7 per cent increase.

In real dollars, that means the Brockville budget would be just over $37 million — an increase of just under $1.5 million from 2018.

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Some of those savings have been achieved by reducing building maintenance — costs like delaying window replacement at city hall. It’s a move that’s expected to save the municipality $150,000 and the park’s budget has been reduced by a similar amount, Dick says.

“Based on our actual [spending] for the last three years, we can probably reduce that by $150,000, as well, and still have the necessary funds in there to do the necessary work,” Dick added.

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Also proposed is not raising the city’s budget set aside for a new twin pad arena.

For that project, the municipality created a fund of $100,000 in 2014 and had increased contributions by $100,000 every year. The 2019 contribution would have been $600,000, but it’s now proposed that it will be frozen at $500,000 this budget year.

Of provincial gas tax revenue, $225,000 will primarily be used to fund the transit system to also help rein in costs.

New Brockville city councillor Cameron Wales says they are getting closer to what he believes residents and businesses can bear, saying it’s important to keep Brockville’s fiscal house in order but that it shouldn’t come at the expense of critical maintenance projects.

“Making sure our roads are in good shape and our sidewalks are working properly — those things aren’t necessarily the big, flashy items, but they’re very important,” Wales said.

Mayor Jason Baker, meanwhile, isn’t new to municipal politics. After spending roughly two decades as a councillor, he says he’d like to see the municipal levy closer to 2 per cent.

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He says incremental and operational costs have to be addressed.

“There’s a staff addition being recommended in one of our departments and so that’s treated as an incremental item, where council would have to approve the addition to our staff complement,” Baker said.

The director of corporate services says to get down to a two per cent increase, council may also have to consider delaying some projects, look at increasing user fees, or a combination of the two.

The mayor expects a budget should be finalized either late January or early February.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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