At the Carleton Place Council Committee of the Whole meeting held on Feb 20th, council received the treasurer’s report on the 2019 municipal budget which proposed a 2.97% tax increase (county and education levies not included). The overall revenue requirements for the town rose from $10,016,331 in 2018 to $10,760,469 for 2019. While this represents a 7.43% increase, town treasurer Trisa McConkey explained that over half of that increase would come from development growth, leaving the 2.97% figure applying to existing taxpayers.
McConkey also provided a view on exactly what this budget means to the average homeowner. For a residential property assessed at $257K (the median value for the town), it boils down to a $28.83 increase for the year or $2.40 per month. She also gave a comparison of area municipalities such as Kingston, Arnprior, Perth, Prescott, Belleville, Pembroke, Cornwall, and Smiths Falls. When county and education levies were factored in for that same $257K property Carleton Place came out with the lowest rate at a total of $3,084. Smiths Falls was the highest in the group at $4,634.
One of the biggest drivers of the public works capital budget is the central bridge replacement. Approximately 10% of those expenditures (or $1.5M) will be related to environmental assessment and detailed design of the central bridge project, and repairs to the Gillies Bridge (commonly known as the back bridges) which will serve as the detour route. The town plans on using roughly $530K per year of tax revenues to service the total cost and debt of this major operation. This could be reduced upon receipt of any provincial or federal grants.
Some other 2019 capital projects of note are the Neelin Street Arena change room upgrades pegged at $2.5M and the Francis Street Daycare Expansion for $2.9M. Committee Chair Councilor Theresa Fritz remarked that as the plan for the arena upgrades were now 4 years old, it would be subjected to a complete review before going out to tender. Councilor Andrew Tennant commented that this might involve a new second level if a business case could be made for additional rental income.
The top four expenses in the budget expressed in per-household costs are fire services at $175, public works at $182, roads at $218, and police services at $385. The treasury also set aside $20K for costs related to live=streaming council meetings. When asked when this would begin, town CAO Diane Smithson remarked she expected a full report from the clerk’s office before the summer break.
Mayor Doug Black thanked staff and council for their work on the budget process and Deputy Mayor Sean Redmond stated that the document demonstrated investment in the community for everyone’s benefit.
The budget motion passed unanimously and will go to council for ratification on March 5th.