CORNWALL, Ontario – Critics of a 2014 tax hike in Cornwall left city hall Tuesday evening with bad news – property owners will have to dig deeper this year.
City council approved the 2014 municipal budget with an $18 increase for the average residential taxpayer in Cornwall - just shy of a one per cent hike.
When coupled with water and sewer increases that could be measured as high as $29, there are some homeowners in Cornwall who will pay an average of $47 more to city hall this year.
"That's what I'm looking at. What am I going to be paying out?" said Coun. Andre Rivette, who supported the water/sewer rate increases because they are tied to infrastructure work.
But Rivette took issue with tax hike.
He tried, unsuccessfully, to get his colleagues to reduce the budget by $500,000 that is being spent on road repairs. Such a move would have essentially resulted in a tax freeze in the city.
"It would send the message out there that council understands and is concerned" about the burden on taxpayers, said Rivette.
He also suggested there is likely to be a cash infusion from the federal government to help cover road work.
There were some who agreed.
"We need to give people a break once and a while," said Coun. Maurice Dupelle.
But others supported spending the money on road work now, suggesting if the work is put off it will only cost more money in the future.
Mayor Bob Kilger, who initiated the plan to get the $500,000 added to the budget, was supportive of keeping the money in the budget for that reason.
Some budget highlights:
- Spending on staff salaries and benefits will rise 2.15 per cent, or about $1.1 million.
- Spending on capital projects will drop to $6.3 million in 2014, down from $7.3 million last year.
- $385,000 for road repairs in the city was returned to a different line item that improves bike lane infrastructure.