Chatham-Kent taxpayers are looking at a 1.7-per-cent increase, about $48 per year on the average tax bill, right out of the gate for the 2019 draft budget, which won’t be finalized until after public input and council debate.
The draft was presented to council members last week, and municipal staff warned the starting increase could be as high as 2.03 per cent if the provincial government doesn’t come through with promised funds from the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund.
Chief Financial Officer Mike Turner said they should know more this week if that funding will be coming.
Not included in the draft is approximately $5.04 million in one-time requests that will be up to council to look at and debate.
Good news for the budget is the savings from changes made to Bill 147 and the minimum wage mandate. According to the draft budget, over $554,000 will be saved from employee labour costs from the government repealing the minimum wage hike from $14 to $15 in 2019.
Information on the draft budget is available on the municipal website at https://www.chatham-kent.ca/local-government/financial-information/2019-municipal-budget.
Council will be taking the budget on the road this week to hear from the public.
Budget Chair and Coun. Brock McGregor said he encourages the public to get information from the website and attend the meetings so they can make informed input on the budget process.
“We want residents to be informed about municipal spending,” said McGregor. “The more information they have, the better feedback we receive as council members.”
Not included in the draft budget for the public to see is the Chatham-Kent Police Service portion of the base budget, which won’t be available until Jan. 31, according to the municipal website.
The first sessions will take place at the Ken Houston Memorial Agriculture Centre in Dresden, and at the Tilbury arena from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Jan. 22.
The next meetings are Jan. 23, at the same time, at the Blenheim High School cafeteria and Wallaceburg Municipal office.
The last meeting will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Active Lifestyle Centre on Merritt Avenue in Chatham on Jan. 24.
The first day of budget deliberations in council chambers is expected to begin on the evening of Jan. 30 and may continue until Feb. 7. Written and verbal presentations of up to five minutes are welcome at each meeting. To register to speak, sign up is available at the door at the deliberation meetings.
Residents are asked to check the schedule posted on the municipal 2019 budget website for updates on the timing for deputations.