Cornwall budget proposes 1.95% tax increase

Cornwall CFO Maureen Adams listens to a question from a city councillor Jan. 11, 2016 following her budget presentation. City taxpayers are looking at an overall tax increase of 1.95 per cent or $45 a year on average. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The first draft of the city’s budget is proposing an overall tax increase for residential taxpayers of 1.95 per cent.

That’s roughly $45 a year for the average home in Cornwall.

The city plans to collect 2.84 per cent more in taxes this year or an extra $1.8 million compared to 2014.

But you will see more of those dollars going directly into the streets and services you use.

The cost of running the Seaway City has also increased with combined budgets for all department up 1.76 per cent.

Meantime, provincial transfers are drying up with $4.8 million coming from the province this year.

CFO Maureen Adams told council tonight (Monday) she expects the transitional assistance portion of the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grant to disappear next year, which could account for roughly $900,000.

On the plus side, the city is still growing with a projected increase of nearly $1.7 million in new building.

As for projects in the city, the corporation plans to increase spending there by $697,500 or roughly 37 per cent. Of the roughly $13 million planned, approximately $4 million will be bankrolled.

“I like that fact we’re doing more and financing less,” Coun. David Murphy said.

The budget document shows more money from taxpayers is going directly into city services – a continuing upward trend since 2003.

The city has seen a challenge in recent years to keeping up with the demand for infrastructure work.

When it comes to funding protective services (police, fire, ambulance) from the tax base, that number has been reduced to 44.12 per cent (44 cents from every tax dollar). That number peaked in 2013 when nearly 50 per cent of tax dollars were funding emergency services.

Adams also drew attention to a decision pending from the city’s three distribution centers that appealed their municipal assessment to the arbitration review board.

“We have been setting aside money for those appeals,” Adams said, suggestion $1.4 million is already in the bank and more money will be set aside this year.

A 10 per cent correction to the $25.5 million in property assessment would hit the city in the wallet for $2.2 million.

“I just want to commend them (staff) and I think they (departments) understand that,” Coun. Andre Rivette said, on reigning in spending.

Now that the budget has been presented, the plan is to have council split into two separate committees – one to deal with grants to outside agencies and another to deal with the core budget.