No decision on tax budget until 2017

Nick Seebruch
No decision on tax budget until 2017
TC Media file photo.

CORNWALL, Ontario – Councillor Andrew Rivette strongly opposed any consideration of the tax budget until he felt Council had enough information to work with.

“Why do we have to get this (the budget) closed down before the end of the year,” he said. “We don’t have finals of MPAC, we don’t have the final result of commercial properties. I’ve seen budgets passed in May. We should have all the financial information in place. That is why I will not support any motion until that is done.”

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) assesses the value of municipal properties and municipal governments must use that assessment when setting their property taxes. Their final assessments are due next week.

MPAC sent the City’s budget into turmoil when its assessment of commercial taxes has been lowered through appeal from Cornwall’s Distribution Centres. Cornwall is currently in mediation with the distribution centres concerning their property tax assessments.

The CAO, Maureen Adams gave her recommendation that from Administration’s perspective delaying a decision on the tax budget would be a wise decision.

“We worked very hard to have a budget book ready for Council for late fall if Council wanted to approve it,” Adams said. “I think our recommendation would be to wait for final numbers from MPAC.”

Budget Committee Chairman Councillor Denis Carr warned the committee that even if the final decision on the tax budget is delayed, it will not be easy no matter what and that council will have to live with that.

“We have to look at some things we are prepared to do and make no mistake we are going to wear the wrap for the budget,” he said. “That’s how the game is played and we have to be prepared to do that. Some of us are going to have to hold our noses. We have to be united on this because if we’re not we’re going to be in big trouble.”

The City is permitted to continue to use up to 50 percent of last year’s budget (roughly $32.5 million) to operate until a new budget is passed.

Chief Financial Officer Tracey Bailey told Seaway News that the budget has usually been passed in the New Year. The reason they were considering the budget now is because the sooner the budget is passed the sooner capital projects can start.

The City cannot begin any capital projects until a new budget is passed.

The committee did pass its recommendation for a 1.43 percent increase to the City’s water and sewer budget.

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