CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall City Council meet at a Special Council Meeting on the night of Monday, Dec. 19.
Council had previously failed to pass two separate motions on the water and sewer budget at the Council meeting on Dec. 12.
Administration was proposing a 1.43 percent rate increase to the water and sewer budget. The major reason for the increase comes from the loss of a major contributor to the budget’s tax base.
Council approved the increase 6-5.
There were motions to approve and deny the increase that we defeated on Dec. 12. Both fell to a tie. Councillor Carilyne Hebert was not present at the meeting and proved to be the deciding vote at the Special Council Meeting.
The loss of Sensient Flavours resulted in a $87, 000 deficit in the budget.
The both the water and sewer components each have target reserves of around $3.5 million. The combined reserves currently sit at $7.7 million, $700, 000 over their targets.
Councillor Andre Rivette wanted to see the 1.43 percent rate increase offset by the surplus in the reserve. The 1.43 percent increase represents roughly $230, 000 in real dollars.
Rivette was the originator of that motion which was one of the two that failed at the Dec. 12 meeting. At the Special Meeting on Monday, he stood by his decision.
“My motion stands that we should offset the increase with the reserves which are over and above our targets,” he said. “This is going to saved the people who are poor and the people who are renting.”
Councillor David Murphy agreed.
“If we are over our targets that is tax payers money and we should give it back,” he said.
Councillor Claude McIntosh pointed out that this increase equated to around 89 cents per month.
Rivette said that while that amount sounds small, it would be passed on to rent payers.
“I am not opposed to utilizing the reserves, I am opposed to using them to offset operations,” said the Mayor.
Denis Carr, who chairs the Budget Steering Committee had warned against tapping into reserves at the Dec. 12 meeting.
“Mr. St. Marseille explained to us that these reserves can disappear really quickly,” Carr had said. “When you talk about sewer and water there are things you can’t plan for. We’ve got to be very prudent and I’ve always been against taking money from reserve to fix problems we have with taxes or the budget.”