“We are lower this time,” said Councillor Troy Carkner, regarding the possible tax increase for the 2020 budget. Carkner noted that the preliminary reports council reviewed on the 2019 budget had “double-digit” tax increases proposed. The 2020 preliminary budget plan so far proposes a 3.9 per cent increase.
Council spent almost four hours, during a special session December 11, reviewing every section of the preliminary 2020 budget. Council members were trying to determine which capital works items deserved priority for next year, and which operation expenses could stand trimming.
One item all council members agreed on was that the storm and sanitary sewer systems for the St-Denis and Stephens streets neighbourhood, in Vankleek Hill, is a priority public works item. They chose the second of two options offered for the project, which will involve relining the two systems, along with rehabilitation of the street surfaces.
Projected cost for option two would be $940,000, paid by a 20-year loan. Option one for complete reconstruction of 700 metres of the storm and sanitary sewers would have cost more than $1.6 million and required a 20-year loan payment plan.
The final budget plan may be approved before the December holiday break, or may be deferred to a January session of council. One item all council members also agreed on was the need for regular contributions to the municipal reserve funds, but that could mean another one per cent addition to the 2020 property tax increase.