Greater Napanee council was presented with a proposed 2019 assessment and operating budget increase of 2.08 per cent with a 3.82 operating budget tax levy increase during Thursday’s budget meeting.
The current projected operating budget came in at $19,351,990, which would be a $393,688 increase over 2018’s total.
“I just want to speak to the conscious effort by staff to bring back to council a budget that was absolutely as low as possible, given the services that the previous council had asked to provide,” said Greater Napanee CAO Ray Callery. “We’re not in front of you cutting out any services, but we are at a point right now where we have a budget that does have an increase, but the increase is basically from major, somewhat uncontrollable, I won’t say completely uncontrollable (costs). Obviously the salary impact is in our budget but that’s one thing from all of our agreements with staff that are coming up for expiry. The other big costing is our policing contract. There is a significant increase in that.”
Mayor Marg Isbester pointed out that the town has little say in the matter when it comes to police costing, as they are handed a bill at the end of each year by the Ontario Provincial Police.
In terms of staff, the town is looking at a $194,832 increase in salaries and benefits compared to last year.
Town of Greater Napanee Deputy CAO Mark Day took council through an in depth powerpoint presentation on some of the biggest items in the 2019 budget.
Policing comes in as the second biggest item on the proposed budget at a cost of $3.6 million, which accounts for 19 per cent of the budget. Infrastructure services/public works was the biggest at $5.1 million, about 27 per cent the total budget. Parks and facilities was third at $3.3 million, which was 17 per cent.
Callery noted that the town also saw a decrease in revenue in the last year.
“We need to take a look at some of the sustainability of our revenue sources, and where we need to increase revenues,” said Callery.
Council also got its first look at the 2019 grant requests, with $43,500 asked for with $29,000 allocated in the budget for grants.
The biggest ask came from the Napanee Cemetery Board, which requested $30,000 from the town.
“I have a real problem with this amount of money with no explanation,” said councillor John McCormack. “They should come and make a presentation and explain themselves. I just don’t understand it.”
Council agreed that they’d need to hear a deputation before considering handing out that kind of money.
As for the doling out of grants, councillor Dave Pinnell Jr. made a successful motion that the town renew a two year agreement with the Community Foundation for Lennox and Addington, which has been over seeing the grant process. Council will take a look at the agreement again in two years and vote again as to whether or not they will carry on with the agreement. They also hold the right to cancel the partnership at anytime with 20 days notice.
Council’s fourth and final scheduled budget meeting will take place March 21 at town hall beginning at 6 p.m.