C-K budget results in 1.61% tax hike



A tax increase of 1.61% is the result after four nights of Chatham-Kent budget deliberations.

South Kent Coun. Art Stirling, the chair of the budget committee, said he was impressed with council’s focus during the process, and is happy with the outcome.

“It was a better process then what we’ve experienced in past years … four nights of deliberations versus nine nights last year as an example,” Stirling said. “Everyone seemed focused on the task. There were less tangents than what we’ve seen before. I think everybody was trying to be as responsible as possible and strike the right tone between doing what we can to keep taxes as low as possible but at the same time moving the community forward and trying to solves some problems.”

Stirling said in a perfect world, the tax impact would be zero, but he’s confident with the decisions council made to deal with a few problems.

“For some people, any number larger than zero is deemed a failure, but I certainly didn’t look at it like that,” he said.

Stirling said the impact of the service review process made the budget process easier.

“A lot of those controversial proposed service cuts – closing libraries and that type of thing – are far too emotional of topics to be in the budget setting,” Stirling said. “Moving those to the service review and dealing with those year round helped the process this year considerably.”

Stirling said tackling the issue of firefighter safety in Chatham and Wallaceburg and runaway overtime costs with the fire service was a key issue taken care of during budget.

“The strategy that Chief (Ken) Stuebing brought forward allowed us to address all of that in one decision,” he said.  “In the eight years I’ve been around the table, we’ve talked about this for the fire service, but never seemed so focused on solving a problem.”

Stirling added the other key issue addressed was chipping away at the infrastructure deficit.

“Moving money from reserves to try to deal with some of the catch-up required to adequately maintain our infrastructure, particularly bridges and roads,” Stirling said. “That decision will allow us to take roughly 12 bridges off of the divestment list, which has been very controversial since administration brought that forward.”

The tax impact is approximately $40 extra on a home assessed at $150,000.




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