CORNWALL, Ontario – The average homeowner in Cornwall will likely pay more property taxes this year.
The city’s budget steering committee ratified a plan from Mayor Bob Kilger to add an additional $500,000 in spending on things like roads to help improve some crumbling infrastructure in Cornwall.
The move will add an additional $18 to the tax bill of a person in Cornwall with a home assessed at $160,000 – the average in the city.
While the move has only been approved at the committee level, it appears likely to be passed by council too, because enough councillors who are not members of the budget group support the plan.
Kilger suggested a recent survey of taxpayers included a slim majority who would support more spending on road repair in Cornwall.
He argued that there was enough room to add spending, because the average homeowner in Cornwall was looking at a tax freeze initially.
“We have an opportunity,” said Kilger, adding he feels the increase in taxes won’t be a burden. “It’s less than 50 cents a week.”
But critics slammed the move, suggesting taxpayers are fed up with increases.
“You increase a budget when you need the money. But in this case you don’t need it,” said Coun. Andre Rivette, who said suggestions made earlier that the city is not spending enough on roads presents a skewed view of things for taxpayers.
He said the city is set to spend $36 million over the next three years on infrastructure work, and “crying wolf” over a lack of spending on road repair isn’t fair.
The mayor took issue with that.
“I’m not crying wolf, I’m not being doom and gloom,” he countered. “Differences of opinion occur.”
City CAO Norm Levac said while the state of Cornwall roads “is actually pretty good” for now, unless the city spends more money in the future, the roads will deteriorate faster.
Other councillors suggested there are some streets in Cornwall in worse shape than others.
“I look at Boyd Street right now…That thing looks dug right up now,” said Coun. Glen Grant. “(Spending the money is) good for our residents, and they’re going to have to pay it eventually and the costs will be higher in the future because everything goes up.”