Posted on Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 11:07 a.m.
An acceptable counties budget at last
The United Counties of Prescott-Russell council may meet its budget deadline for 2018 with weeks to spare after all.
“I am personally prepared to support this,” said Warden Gary Barton during the UCPR committee of the whole council session Wednesday.
Julie Ménard-Brault, director of finance for the counties (see photo), presented council with a five-page summary brief of the latest revisions to the 2018 preliminary budget report.
The suggested reductions would cut another $300,000 approximately from the expense side of the budget, bringing it down from about $43 million to under $42 million. It also reduces the original 5.4 per cent tax rate increase needed for the first draft of the budget to 2.7 per cent.
Last month counties council asked administration to try to bring the tax rate increase for the budget down to 2.5 per cent, though Mayors Pierre Leroux of Russell Township and Fernand Dicaire of Alfred-Plantagenet Township indicated they could accept a rate increase of 3.6 per cent if it meant helping the counties meet both current and future asset management needs after several past years of zero-per cent budget increases.
The 2.7 per cent tax rate increase would translate to about $27 more for the average homeowner on his or her counties property tax bill. During a later interview Ménard-Brault said the latest revisions will allow the counties to maintain existing services without having to either cut programs or lay off staff.
“I think it’s an excellent budget,” said Ménard-Brault.
She noted that the revised budget will also allow the UCPR to make good on its commitment to a contract with the Town of Hawkesbury to maintain fire dispatch call service for six of the UCPR’s member municipalities. The City of Clarence-Rockland has its own separate fire dispatch call service contract with the City of Ottawa.
The draft budget will come back before counties council for final review and a possible approval vote during its November 22 regular session.