CORNWALL, Ontario - Your taxes are going up - just not as much as was first thought.
The city's budget steering committe put the 2013 document to bed Friday morning and thanks to a significant cut to funding the corporation provides to outside agencies the tax hike will equate to about $39 on the avrerage residential bill, down from $42.
While the move to make cut was met with damnation from a handul of city councillors who worry some of those groups will be handcuffed for the coming year, a majority of councillors felt the city was sending the right message.
“This budget was never easy, and we know it wouldn’t be," said budget committee chair Denis Carr. "I think that we did the best we could.”
But Coun. Bernadette Clement claims the committee's best isn't in keeping with the city's bests interests.
“This is a short-term type of budget that gets us to 2014," she said. "That’s a good thing, it’s just not good enough.
“We’ve been doing that a lot…without considering the long-term impacts of our spending.”
City council must still approve the budget to make it a binding document. And while the budget committee is made up solely of members of council, a vote must take place at a regular or special council meeting before the budget is officially adopted. That could happen as soon as next week.
Mayor Bob Kilger was absent from Friday's budget meeting and Coun. Maurice Dupelle had work commitments that forced him to leave before the vote was taken to approve the document.
Even if the two were to vote against the budget it would still be approved by a 6-5 count based on Friday's vote where Carr, Denis Thibault, David Murphy, Andre Rivette, Glen Grant and Syd Gardiner voted to adopt it.
Murphy and Thibault agreed it wouldn't make much sense to send the budget back to make more changes now, given that the city has satisifed a directive by councillors to keep any tax levy hike to three per cent or less. The budget approved Friday comes in at 2.88 per cent.
“I would like to see it lower…but 2.88 I can live with," said Murphy. "We have to remain fiscally responsible because one of our pillars is to maintain the course we are heading in.”
"This is a good compromise.”
Thibault said public sentiment suggested taxpayers wanted as much belt-tightenting as possible.
“It means a lot of give and take from a lot of us who have different feelings on the priorities for our community," he said. “Based on the feedback coming from the public and this council, this seems to be the budget they elected us to put forward this year.”