2018 waterworks budget passes with 6.25% increase

Cornwall Mayor Leslie O'Shaughnessy (center) speaks from the council floor in selling a 6.25 per cent increase for the 2018 water and sewer budget. This proposal later passed in a unanimous vote. Also shown are Couns. Justin Towndale (left), Carilyne Hebert (foreground) and Acting Mayor David Murphy (background). (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – After a deadlocked meeting last week, and one proposal shot down Monday night, city council finally passed its 2018 water and sewer budget.

Coun. Elaine MacDonald had proposed a 7.6 per cent increase – a slight reduction from the originally proposed 7.65 per cent increase based on the long term asset management plan.

But it was turned down in a 6-5 vote.

The mayor then proposed a 6.25 per cent increase.

The change chops about $234,000 in the capital budget on the water side of the city’s infrastructure.

Based on the type of house setup you have, the increase would be anywhere from $36.51 next year for a one bathroom house with an outside tap and no pool to $52.03 for two bathroom house with an outside tap and swimming pool.

Coun. Bernadette Clement said council doesn’t want to feel like it’s “rubber stamping” administration’s recommendation but the increase is backed by three different plans.

“We don’t want to endanger capital and at some point down the road…having to go to an absurd number (increase),” Clement said. “We cheap out on the capital and we pay for that later,” Clement said later in supporting the mayor’s motion.

The city has a $42 million backlog in water and sewer infrastructure.

“All we’re doing is putting off an expense,” Coun. Elaine MacDonald said. Based on staff projections, the next council will be facing a potential 9.5 per cent increase in 2019 if there is no funding from higher levels of government.

In selling his 6.25 per cent increase, Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy suggested the city has been “lax” in lobbying senior governments for infrastructure dollars.

“Let’s provide the opportunity…to provide the time for lobbying, to expand our (water) system,” O’Shaughnessy said.