A first draft of Greater Napanee’s operating and capital budget has been put together by town staff, projecting, at most, a 4.8 per cent increase.
The final number is still being worked on and staff has been directed to look for efficiencies and examine revenue streams in an effort to whittle that number down, if possible.
“None of us are happy with any tax increase, but we know the cost of everything goes up and we have to start paying more attention to infrastructure and road maintenance,” said Greater Napanee mayor Marg Isbester.
Council had a brief debate at Tuesday’s regular council meeting as a follow up from their Jan. 23, six hour meeting dedicated solely to the budget. The next round of budget talks are scheduled for Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at town hall.
“The idea is that we should be at that (4.8 per cent) level or lower if possible,” said deputy mayor Max Kaiser. “I don’t know if any further efficiencies can be found but I could be agreeable to that number because I know the hard work and scrutinizing that went into that number and it’s a very realistic and sensible budget.”
“It’s evident that we’re really tight and we have some huge, huge increases whether we foreseen them coming or not, the reality is that they’re here,” added councillor Dave Pinnell Jr.
Greater Napanee CAO Ray Callery noted staff is still waiting to receive revenue reports that could affect the bottom line.
“We have been very lean in the last five years and our senior staff and staff across the board have worked very hard in the last couple of years finding efficiencies,” said Kaiser. “Over and over again. You can only find so many efficiencies and I guess this is coming back to bare on us.”
-Council voted to proclaim two days of note in the coming weeks. The first was Kin Canada Day, which will take place Feb. 20 in recognition of Kin Canada’s 100th anniversary. The second was Epilepsy Day on March 26.
Isbester also suggested council look into ways to further honour community groups by flying a flag to mark a special occasion. Noting that the flagpole on top of town hall wasn’t practical, she suggested they explore a more suitable location to install a flagpole. Kaiser also suggested they could show their support virtually by adding flags to the town’s website as part of future proclamations.