Over 100 questions planned on third Cornwall budget day

Cornwall Coun. Eric Bergeron. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The city’s senior staff will be facing questions – lots of them – in the third and possibly final day of Cornwall budget deliberations.

Right now, the budget stands at 2.97 per cent tax increase or an extra $74 this year on a home valued at $173,684. That’s up from the initial 2.72 per cent because of adjustments that have added to the budget. One is for the Woodhouse Museum ($30,000) and the other is a budget adjustment because of an overestimation of provincial funding for court security ($140,297).

Coun. Eric Bergeron says he has 90 questions related to budgets for city operations and he’s not the only one.

Council has set aside five-and-a-half hours today (Wednesday).

Bergeron has also indicated that he has 14 motions related to the capital budget and some of those may change based on the answers he gets to his 90 questions on operations.

But during Tuesday’s budget meeting, the majority on council didn’t agree with Bergeron’s motion to have senior staff come back to make a presentation for each department and go through the budget line by line.

“To me, to bring in every manager to go through every operating budget. It’s pretty self explanatory. It’s a waste of time,” Coun. Glen Grant stated.

Coun. Todd Bennett said he didn’t want staff to “read this (the budget) to me” but he would like staff there to ask questions. He has 18-20 to ask.

Coun. Justin Towndale, who supported Bergeron’s motion, said he didn’t have a problem with going through departments at a “high level,” especially for the new councillor.

At one point, Bergeron was bothered that other councillors were insinuating that he didn’t read the budget. “I have read the budget. It keeps being implied when I ask a question about process that I haven’t read something and I take that a little bit personally.”

“Operating of this city is a huge operation. I’m going to ask some tough questions about our own (city council) budget. We’re running a city here, we’re governors,” Bergeron said.

“These are not questions I would have sent by email (to staff) before. These are public conversations that need to happen. This to me is critical, more critical, than our capital presentations and conversations, and I wouldn’t support a budget that doesn’t allow this,” Bergeron said.

The budget meeting starts at 3 p.m. today (Wednesday).