Council passes 3.06 per cent residential tax increase

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
Council passes 3.06 per cent residential tax increase
Seaway News file photo.

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Cornwall City Council passed the 2020 municipal budget with a 3.06 per cent residential tax increase, or $76.26 per household.

Council passed the budget after around 17 hours of deliberation over three days.

Council was originally presented with a 2.72 per cent increase, but $60,000 was added to the budget for a new position in administration to help organize strategic priorities in the city.

READ MORE: Cornwall seeks to hire new employee to tackle strategic plan

The first and second day began with the review of capital projects, including a new fire hall, HVAC replacement for the Justice Building, a new snow machine for Big Ben, new seats for the Civic Complex and more.

At the end of the second day, Councillor Eric Bergeron asked for presentations the following day, Wednesday, from all department heads on their Operating budget, which is largely made up of salaries determined by union negotiations.

Council defeated that motion, but did agree to have all department heads present in order to answer questions.

On Wednesday, Bergeron made roughly a dozen motions to remove items from the municipal budget. Including removing the snow machine for Big Ben, the $2.9 million for a new fire hall, and the Arts Centre, amongst other things. All of Bergeron’s motions were defeated by wide margins.

“When Council chose not to hear presentations from the people sitting here that’s when I decided I couldn’t pass this budget,” Bergeron said. “Suffice to say I have a different view of our responsibility here.”

“I just don’t understand the priorities when everything was approved,” Bergeron added, stating he believed the waterfront plan was of greater priority than the fire hall.

Other members of council had a more positive view of the budget.

“I couldn’t put forward any motions to decrease it, it is a bare minimum budget,” said Councillor Maurice Dupelle.

“Usually I wouldn’t do a victory lap over a 3.06 increase,” said Councillor Claude McIntosh. “HVAC at justice building. $1 million. it has to be done. These are all things that have to be done and we’re doing them.”

Mayor Bernadette Clement praised the budget and the work of administration in creating it.

“This is a responsible budget that supports our very precious infrastructure. It speaks to growth and our future,” she said.

The budget passed with only Councillor Eric Bergeron voting against.

The full draft budget can be viewed here.

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