Cornwall 2016 budget passes despite attempted tourism add in eleventh hour

(Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – The final round for the 2016 city budget short Monday short circuited into a heated debate about stymieing the democratic process.

“I don’t think we should go down a road that limits debate,” Coun. Bernadette Clement said, after trying to add $20,000 into the budget for Cornwall and the Counties Tourism.

Clement, who was on the core budget committee, was not on the outside agencies committee that made the decision to give $544,000 in funding, but felt that pushing a motion to pass the budget in its entirety was “limiting democratic discussion.”

After some procedural wrangling, her motion eventually did go to a vote. It was defeated 6-4. Couns. Elaine MacDonald, Carilyne Hebert, Bernadette Clement and Mark MacDonald voted to stick the extra $20,000 into the budget in the final day.

Coun. McIntosh said the parameters were set for the outside agencies committee and the committee did its job. He wondered opening why one group was being favoured over another.

In supporting tourism, Clement explained that $20,000 of the $181,000 tourism budget was a significant cut, and the agency uses the money to leverage more funds.

The discussion also turned to talk about committee reform – even for a process that was tried for only a second time. Some councillors even wondered why they were even in the business of giving out money.

“(The outside agency funding process is) almost a disaster. I think it’s something we shouldn’t be in the business of,” Coun. Carilyne Hebert said.

Coun. Maurice Dupelle also suggested maybe some groups should be allowed to be at the table three times and then they’re out.

The final budget did pass with a 1.88 per cent tax increase.

That will mean an extra $41.58 on your 2016 tax bill.

That’s amount is based on a property valued at $159,539, so the actual increase will vary slightly based on the value of your home through municipal assessment.

“I thought the format really worked well,” Coun. Mark MacDonald said at the beginning of the meeting. But after an hour, the councillor was second guessing his assessment after the meeting digressed into the heated back-and-forth over the tourism funding.