New Warden Bob Crate

No service cuts though

Article by Valerie MacDonald

A video of Trent Hills Mayor Bob Crate officially taking the oath of office as Northumberland County warden and receiving the Chain of Office took place December 14 and will be shown to council December 16 during the regularly scheduled County Council session.

Talking to News Now Network last week, Crate said, two special sessions were held that will impact the draft 2021 budget anticipated to be adopted on Wednesday.

The Warden Elect said county council discussions had lead to a decision to increase the base levy “in the 2% range” with “no service cuts”.

The staff summary before the budget discussions recommended a base levy of 1.8% and a dedicated infrastructure investment of .64% for a total 2.44% increase but that has not yet been voted on by council.

It’s a real tough spot we’re in,” Warden elect Crate said. “Staff looks at what it takes to maintain services and council is looking for savings….so that there is a reasonable (tax) increase.”

Staff have been asked for additional information which will be brought forward to this Wednesday’s budget discussions.  The report notes that the County has consistently had a lower annual tax increase (when including assessment growth) than that of the membership of the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus. The budget calls for continued ramping up of capital budgets and contributions to reserves.

There has been “stable levy increases over the past 10 years” and the County’s “10-year-plan requires increases above 2%,” the staff report states. Since 2016, a dedicated capital levy was added to the base levy to address the infrastructure gap of maintaining items such as roads and bridges.

Asked about the County’s service review, Crate said it was looking at how the County and member municipalities can work together more to save money, such as when the County provides paving and IT services for some municipalities. And the County can also provide consulting services at a lower cost to municipalities and create revenue for itself at the same time.

“Some…of these recommendations in there are embedded in the budget…the efficiencies,” Crate said.

The draft budget and long-term plan have been posted on the County’s website for the public’s review and comments.

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