As of March 6, Smiths Falls town council has passed the 2017 municipal budget – an achievement which one member of council called “probably a record.”
Moving the third and final reading of the budget – which received preliminary approval Feb. 13 – Councillor Lorraine Allen said, “All of us feel that this year’s budget went very well, and I would give much of that credit to our treasurer, Janet Koziel.”
The budget provides for an increase in taxation of 2.46 per cent. Due to a drop in the assessed value of property in Smiths Falls from last year, the town will collect just $3,000 more in taxes than it did in 2016, making this year’s budget effectively revenue-neutral.
The budget includes funding for some major capital projects, including a $1.9 million upgrade to Lorne Street. The town has applied for federal and provincial funding to assist with this project, leaving the town’s share of the cost at about $500,000.
At a March 6 council meeting, the draft budget received unanimous approval. Veteran councillor Chris Cummings said this was the earliest he could remember a budget being passed.
Mayor Shawn Pankow commented that the effort to minimize tax increases was aided by ongoing service reviews of town departments in order to identify cost savings. “We have certainly started to reap the benefits of the service review,” he said.
Pankow also noted that the fire department has secured contracts to provide dispatching services to other municipalities, which will bring in about $100,000 in new revenue over the next five years, and will also help to reduce the need to raise taxes.
“I think staff have done an incredible job of managing this budget so effectively,” said Pankow.