City council is expected to set its tax rate target at a meeting Monday night.
Administrators are going to councillors to find out what they think should be the priorities bean counters must consider when drafting their preliminary 2013 budgets.
Pressure is already starting to mount on councillors to ensure tax rates remain stable.
Rick Shaver, president of the Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce, said in an interview council should aim for a tax freeze in 2013.
“The chamber would always like the city to come in at zero,” he said. “This year they tried to fine tune their budget.
“But we think they can go deeper.”
Taxpayers in Cornwall had to swallow a 1.5 per cent tax hike in 2012, following a one per cent increase the year before that.
It won’t be easy for council to produce a tax freeze in 2013. There’s already a litany of budgetary pressures that the city must grapple with next year, and we haven’t even hit Thanksgiving yet.
The list of concerns heading into next year’s budget discussions includes:
- The ongoing commitments relating to collective agreements for various bargaining units, like fire and police.
- An increase of approximately one per cent in the employer costs for OMERS contributions.
- The limited tax based funding for capital projects.
- Inflationary costs for contracted services, as well as the purchase of goods and materials.
- Reduced tipping fee revenue of approximately $500,000.
- Reduced funding from the province relating to social programs.
- The uncertainty of provincial equalization payments (the equalization grant has been reduced by $537,500 over the past two years).
Shaver understands council’s dilemma, but added targeting a tax freeze now sets the appropriate tone.
“Council will have a challenge to meet (a tax freeze),” he said. “But if they don’t go for zero from the start, it’s too easy to add (expenditures.”