Average increase $126 per household
After a public meeting at the PRC last Thursday, Town Council will pass the final version of the budget on Tuesday February 28th. A proposed hike of 4.3% will mean an average increase of $126 per household. Andrew Atlin questioned Council on the Recreation budget which he says is creating a big loss for the Town. He said that he has asked about this in previous years and noted that in order to keep the Recreation department from sustaining future losses, the staff numbers will have to be lowered. In reply Atlin was told that the Town will be studying the entire issue with the new Master Plan for Recreation which is starting this week.
Atlin also questioned the legal fees expenses which he noted had risen over the previous year. Asking for a break-down for this amount, he said that it would likely be for severance packages for former employees. He requested a break-down for these employees and said if it was not supplied he would seek the information under the “Freedom of Information Act”.
Jim Brown, Treasurer for the Town outlined the entire budget and the problems that were encountered. He said that assessments have risen which are out of the control of the Town and they have seen a loss of property taxes due to industry closings, which he said the Town made an allowance of $100,000 for this. He also noted that the pledges for the PRC are decreasing and to offset this $100,250 was taken from General Funds. The Reserve Fund is at $8.3 million with the PUC Fund at $3.5 million and Developments Charges at $1.2 million. Some of the big Capital items for this year include n$2.2 million for Emily Street, $2.2 million for the Wellington Street Bridge and $922,000 for the Warner St, (Queen to Elgin) and Jones (Warner to Salina) reconstruction. He said that the premise outlined by Council to all Departments that services would not be cut. The budget for the Library which Council had indicated would be at an increase of 2.59% was increased to 5.99% at the request of the Library. In a presentation they outlined a plan for an increase of 5.99% which Council approved.