Chatham-Kent Civic Centre. January 18, 2017. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

Infrastructure A Key Topic At CK Budget Open Houses

A number of budget open houses have residents feeling more comfortable with Chatham-Kent’s proposed tax increase, according to a municipal official.

Budget open houses were held on Wednesday at Blenheim District High School and the Wallaceburg Municipal Office. There is a final budget open house on Thursday from 4:30pm to 6pm at the Active Lifestyle Centre in Chatham.

Director of Budget and Performance Services Gord Quinton says when residents understand what the proposed 2.27% tax hike is for, they feel more comfortable.

“They want to understand what’s being done with the 2.27% increase. Once they get an understanding of all the pressures the municipality is under and with our infrastructures concerns and with Bill 148 and our other pressures, they understand why we have a draft budget of 2.27%,” says Quinton.

Quinton says a key topic at the open houses that have been held so far is infrastructure.

“I think infrastructure is always a concern, not always the condition of infrastructure but how much we have to pay to maintain our infrastructure. When we’re only approximately 50% funded in our Asset Management Plan, it’s one of our biggest expenses,” he says.

Budget Chair Derek Robertson previously told that of the 2.27% that is being allocated right now, about 1.35% would be invested into infrastructure.

At Wednesday’s presentation in Blenheim, Quinton says guests also raised concerns about pressures on the municipality’s ambulance services. Some residents also had questions about increases in staffing this year.

“This year many of our new positions that are being added are actually 100% paid for by the province,” says Quinton. “When you hear the number of new staff, it’s a concern until you have an understanding of whether its the tax bill paying for it or the province is contributing.”