The city has finished up one half of the budget in record time – in two days. Covering budgets for nine years I can say this has been one of the most efficient exercises to date. It may have to do with the makeup of the budget committee, or committees in this case. We will see next week as the second half of council sits down to tackle the so-called outside agencies. With over a million dollars in asks, and $574,000 in the budget, something will have to give, in order to keep an overall tax increase at 1.89 per cent.
It should be noted too that lying under that figure of 1.89 per cent or an extra $42 on a $160,000 home, is an actual tax levy of 3.01 per cent. That means the city will be collecting an extra $1.8 million dollars from the taxpayer than it did last year.
Looking at the sheet of overall costs to the city, many are contractual with salaries and benefits. There is a quarter million dollars for four new positions in the city – half of those are workers at Glen-Stor-Dun Lodge. The other increases are happening with services tied to the province. Social housing is a large additional cost for the city. Couple that with fewer dollars from Ontario, investment income and supplementary taxation and the money has to come from somewhere. Just be glad that city has moved away from largely going into debt, save and except the Riverdale splash pad.
At the end of the day, not everybody will be happy with this budget. There will always be critics calling for a tax freeze, a tax decrease and the odd man out saying it should be higher. But coming from previous budgets where the first day was met with a five per cent plus tax increase and staff were told to go back to the drawing board, I think Cornwall is making some headway with keeping its finances in check.