Service levels not affected

Article by Valerie MacDonald

Council was able to do this even though the total tax-raised portion of the budget (just over $6.6-million) is up the same amount as the property assessment increase in the municipality (of 1.8%) for next year,” the municipality’s CEO and finance director, Carol James, told the News Now Network in an interview.

Council was very adamant that it wanted a zero increase to taxes, she explained.

There were savings from the 2020 budget and these surpluses will go into reserve bank accounts for the various departments, including parks and recreation (where staff handled grass cutting and students were not hired). The estimated reserve is about $200,000, James said.

Other savings achieved this year came from training and conferences not taken and not attended, she said.

The municipality also received about $206,000 in government COVID-19 assistance funding of which about $40,000 (on items like protection equipment and a steam cleaning machine) has been spent and the rest will go into reserves as the pandemic moves forward.

Looking ahead to reductions planned for the 2021 budget some of those include cutbacks in conference expenses (virtual conferences do not include hotel costs for instance) and putting off the purchase of a tandem truck for snow plowing.

“We just couldn’t do it,” James said.

Asked about service levels, she said that “services will still all be the same” but contingent on provincial and health directions due to the pandemic. At this time, for example, the arena in Grafton is open but the upstairs observation area is closed, James said.

The total 2021 budget (including the $6.6-million taxable portion) is just shy of $9.7-million and revenues for the difference are through government grants, user fees, etc. This compares to total 2020 budget of $11.8-million that included 2.3-million for the new firehall/ambulance centre in Roseneath, she said.

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