Smiths Falls Council approves 2020 budget, 1.9 per cent water increase

Smiths Falls
Smiths Falls Mayor Shawn Pankow says the 2020 budget is a “fair balance between what we deem to be affordable, while focusing on the work we need to do.” A view of Smiths Falls in October 2019. Photo credit: Emilie Must.
Posted on: January 14, 2020

Smiths Falls town council is set to approve the town’s 2020 budget, which includes a 1.9 per cent increase in water rates.

Town Treasurer Janet Koziel presented the final draft of the 2020 budget to council’s Committee of the Whole at a meeting Jan. 13, 2020. 

“I think it has that fair balance between what we deem to be affordable, while focusing on the work we need to do,” Smiths Falls Mayor Shawn Pankow said. 

“We’re seeing significant growth of values in town of residential properties. That trend is likely to continue.”

The 1.9 per cent water rate increase will show an average of an extra $14 on annual water bills. 

Councillor Peter McKenna raised concerns over the lack of resources, “for future councils to fix the infrastructure. I do believe there is a gap in what we’re putting away. I want to pause until we update our asset management plan.”

“We don’t have the resources in this budget for asset management,” Morris said. “In 2020 we’re going to comb through the data to see where we can extend the lifetime of an asset instead of replacing it.” 

Looking ahead to the 2021 budget, Morris highlighted the possible effects of changing Ontario health care formulas and loss of funding. 

“We have to think about how we are going to manage those vulnerabilities in the futures,” Morris said. “We dodged a bullet in this year’s budget but next year is going to be a new challenge.” 

The 2020 budget also includes $181,000 the town is giving to community organizations.

On Jan. 6 council heard a delegation seeking a $28,000 annual grant for five years to the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, a first for the town of Smiths Falls.

The grant would help with the Kingston General Hospital’s redevelopment including a new emergency room, mental health wing and the only neonatal unit in Eastern Ontario. 

Council denied the request, but it prompted a discussion on forming a policy framework for hospitals to go through. 

Council agreed on granting $20,000 to the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario, $20,500 of the $24,000 ask for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lanark County, as well as the full ask of $9,500 for Lanark Transportation.

The Smiths Falls Food Security Advocacy Group asked for $48,701. Council decided to grant half of the ask for 2020 with $26,490. In 2019 the town gave only $4,011. 

Smiths Falls council will vote on the third and final reading of the 2020 budget at a meeting on Monday, Jan. 27.

Article by Emilie Must

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