Cornwall budget passes with 2.83% increase

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – After three days of deliberations with a marathon last meeting, Cornwall city council has passed the 2021 budget with a 2.83 per cent tax increase.

The final vote was 7-4 just before midnight Thursday for a meeting that started at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Those opposed to the budget said there wasn’t enough focus on looking at the $179 million operating budget and making cuts there. Most of the budget meetings focused on the $37 million in capital projects.

While supporting the capital budget, Coun. Eric Bergeron said he couldn’t vote for the budget as a whole based on the operations side. “For me, I just fundamentally don’t think we’ve done enough work on the operating side of this budget. It represents 95 times more tax base funding than capital budget.”

Coun. Dean Hollingsworth agreed saying that council needed to grind through the operations side because it’s one of the few places where council has some control. “The operating side is where a sense of political will is part of how it works and it’s not about micromanaging. It’s about determining corporate philosophy.”

Those that supported it included Coun. Todd Bennett.

“I think it’s a good budget. The fact it was 2.9 (per cent) to start was impressive enough.”

Coun. Claude McIntosh called it a difficult budget but a “budget I can live with.”

“The residents will accept this budget,” Coun. Glen Grant said. The veteran councillor says the future of the municipal landfill is what “kept me awake” at night and hopes it will be tackled in more depth in the future.

Starting with a 2.9 per cent increase, council was only able to shave off a fraction of a per cent.

Some items that managed to be cut were painting at three city parks ($45,500), the demolition of the Croquet Club trailer ($40,000), promotion of Guindon Park ($40,000) and taking Guindon Park road improvement burden off taxpayers ($25,000 – it will be funded by the gas tax).

With a 2.83 per cent tax increase, that will mean an extra $72.78 this year on a home assessed at $173,860.