Cornwall 2017 budget passes with 1.7% tax increase

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – City councillors have managed to bring an overall tax increase under the rate of inflation.

But the move hasn’t come without warnings from some municipal officials and a somewhat divided council.

During a special meeting Monday night, council voted 6-4 to approve a 1.7 per cent tax increase – instead of the 2.78 per cent originally on the table.

The 1.7 per cent tax increase, with assessment factored in, will mean an overall increase of $38.12 a year on a home assessed at $161,899.

The city will be collecting fewer taxes this year – $67.38 million, compared to $67.96 million in 2016.

The cuts were made through further trimming to municipal departmental budgets. The biggest change is a $480,000 cut to salaries and benefits made during a closed-door meeting.

Though the budget doesn’t set out exactly how that will be accomplished – whether it will be a pay freeze, attrition, layoffs or a combination of all three.

There are also reported upcoming changes to wages and benefits for some or all municipal staff.

With the city facing a situation where fewer dollars are coming in, some on council felt it would be setting up the corporation for future problems in 2018 and beyond.

Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy said doing ratepayers a favour now by bringing a lower increase now would make it harder in future years.