Cornwall passes budget: 2.4% tax increase

(Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – City taxpayers will be saddled with paying an extra $54 on average this fall on their annual municipal tax bill.

Cornwall city council passed its 2015 budget Monday night where residents will be facing a 2.4 per cent increase in their municipal taxes this year or an extra $54 on an average residential property of $160,000.

The final vote was 8-3. Couns. David Murphy, Brock Frost and Mark MacDonald voted against the budget.

While it may not show on the bill in your mailbox, the tax rates for the city have dropped 15 per cent since 2007 and education taxes have dropped 26 per cent during the same time. But the province’s calculation of the value of people’s properties (provincial assessment) has negated any savings for ratepayers.

The city will collect $63.6 million in taxes this year – nearly $2.6 million more than 2014.

The financial blueprint looks to restore money into the Seaway City’s roads, bridges and services with an increase in capital projects this year of $8.8 million. That compares to $6.9 million in 2014. Nearly $3 million in 2015 is coming from the provincial and federal gas taxes.

“We have been pressured to make reductions and it really has come at the cost of capital (projects),” CFO Maureen Adams said, pointing to a precipitous fall in capital investment since 2003 with the exception of 2009 and 2013.

While voting on the budget, Coun. Bernadette Clement says we have to watch our capital spending going forward.

For his sixth budget in the city Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy says “it was the most challenging. Two-point-four per cent increase is the cost-of-living. When you look at other municipalities, some are struggling to come in at the cost-of-living. (But it’s) time to start looking at 2016 now,” the mayor said.

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