In an effort to find savings in the proposed tax hike, Chatham-Kent councillors focussed on removing a number of infrastructure line items during the first night of budget deliberations.
Chatham-Kent began budget deliberations last week with the infrastructure lifecycle as a key topic for the first night of deliberations.
When the draft budget was initially released, the municipality projected a tax increase of 4.74 percent for 2022. With the approval of some budget cuts, the proposed tax increase is down from 4.74 percent to 3.37 percent.
To help save some money from the base budget, approximately $2.3-million was cut out of infrastructure.
put forward the first motion to remove $550,000 from the capital plan to cover the same amount for underground infrastructure.
However, General Manager of Engineering and Infrastructure Thomas Kelly said the municipality’s biggest gap is in its storm network, paved roads, bridges, and culverts.
While admitting the proposal works, Kelly said there would be some consequences to this.
“We would have $550,000 less to put into infrastructure,” said Kelly. “It does have some repercussions, we’re falling behind, but as far as this proposal, this does work.”
Despite some worries, the motion was unanimously passed.
Councillor Anthony Ceccacci followed. He introduced a motion to remove $676,000 out of the asset management plan from the budget. Council passed this motion 15 to 3.
Councillor Steve Pinsonneault presented the third motion. He encouraged council to remove $650,000 of the capital reserve from the budget.
Pinsonneault said the year has been difficult, adding the municipality won’t be getting to any shoreline work.
“This year, we could really use a break,” said Pinsonneault. “We’re still putting in $1.25-million, which is a good contribution, and this $650,000 will help our bottom line.”
Most were in favour of the motion, but some expressed their concerns.
Harrigan said as a council, they have a significant amount of shoreline erosion issues and have done a lot of work to lobby the government in supporting them with those issues. She added that the government would not come to the table unless council talked about cost-sharing.
She expressed the gap between what the municipality has to do and what it has to pay for is quite large. However, she said the municipality needs to save its money to show the government that Chatham-Kent is serious about fixing its problems.“We’re not going to tell the folks over on Talbot Trail, Rose Beach Line, and Erie Shore Drive that we have no plan,” Harrigan added.
The motion was successful with a 10-8 vote.
Council also passed the police budget, which had a 4.48 percent increase over last year’s budget. Council discussed a motion to take $250,000 out of the $34 million police budget, but the motion failed by an 8-10 vote. This year, service enhancements in the police force include more police officers, body-worn cameras for officers, a bike patrol unit, and drones.
The proposed 2022 draft budget now sits with a 2.99 percent hike, with the third night of budget deliberations on Feb. 1.
If needed, Feb. 2 and 3 have also been set aside. The meetings run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Staff will accept written deputations of up to five minutes each evening. Submissions must be sent to email@example.com before 3 p.m. each day.
Comments can also be mailed to Budget & Performance Services, Municipality of Chatham-Kent, 315 King St. W., P.O. Box 640, Chatham, Ont., N7M 5K8, or submitted by phone to 519-360-1998.
All budget meetings will be broadcasted by YourTV and live-streamed on the YourTV Chatham-Kent YouTube page.