Budget back to staff to find $70K in capital savings

City CFO Maureen Adams, right, answers a question from Mayor Leslie O'Shaughnessy during a city budget meeting March 13, 2015. Mayor O'Shaughnessy has successfully sent the budget back to staff one final time to find an extra $70,000 in savings to bring in a cost-of-living increase. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – “We’re down to the wire.”

And in adding that, Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy sent the budget back to staff a final time to find another $70,000 in savings in capital projects.

The budget stands at a 2.51 per cent tax increase or an extra $56 a year for a homeowner with a $160,000 property. But the mayor would like to see it come in at a cost of living increase of 2.4 per cent.

“This has been tough…we are nickel-and-diming. The elephant in the room is the (lack of) provincial funding,” Coun. Claude McIntosh said.

Those paltry cuts on Friday included picnic tables, vehicle fleet costs and rest stops for the waterfront trail.

In supporting the budget at its current 2.51 per cent, McIntosh says North Bay, Kingston and Belleville have brought in budgets with roughly 2.5 per cent tax increases and those communities have similar struggles as Cornwall.

Coun. Carilyne Hebert suggested the budget could be passed today equating it to roughly 30 cents per household.

But Mayor O’Shaughnessy threw cold water on that calculation. “You can make the argument for another 21 cents and another 21 cents and so on…and you’ll be back at the 5.68 per cent,” coming back to his argument the municipality’s track record is unsustainable.

In a recorded vote, all but Couns. Mark MacDonald and Carilyne Hebert, voted to send the budget back to staff. Budget chairwoman Bernadette Clement abstained.

Typically, the city holds an afternoon special meeting to pass the budget and then its confirmed in a bylaw before the full city council.

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