Proposed tax increase trimmed as CK budget deliberations begin

Chatham-Kent 2022 Budget Deliberations.

Chatham-Kent began budget deliberations Wednesday with the infrastructure lifecycle as a key topic for the first night of deliberations.

When the draft budget was initially released, the municipality projected a tax increase of 4.74 per cent for 2022. Now, with the approval of some budget cuts, the proposed tax increase is down from 4.74 per cent to 3.37 per cent.

To help save some money from the base budget, about $2.3-million was cut out of infrastructure.

Councillor Melissa Harrigan put forward the first motion to remove $550,000 from the capital plan to cover the same amount for underground infrastructure.

General Manager of Engineering and Infrastructure Thomas Kelly said the municipality’s biggest gap is in its storm network, paved roads, bridges, and culverts.

While the proposal works, Kelly said there would be some repercussions.

“We would have $550,000 less to put into infrastructure [roads, bridges, buildings],” said Kelly. “It does have some repercussions, we’re falling behind but as far as this proposal, this does work.”

The motion was unanimously passed.

Councillor Anthony Ceccacci followed by introducing a motion to remove $676,000 out of the asset management plan from the budget. Council passed the motion 15 to 3.

The third motion was presented by Councillor Steve Pinsonneault, who encouraged council to remove $650,000 of the capital reserve from the budget.

He said the year has been tough, adding that the municipality won’t be getting to any shoreline work.

“This year we could really use a break,” said Pinsonneault. “We’re still putting in $1.25-million, which is a good contribution, and this $650,000 will help our bottom line.”

While most were in favour of the motion, some were not.

“As a council, we have a significant amount of shoreline erosion issues and we have done a lot of work to lobby the government in supporting us with those issues,” said Harrigan. “They’re not going to come to the table unless we talk about cost-sharing.”

Harrigan expressed that the gap between what the municipality has to do and what it has to pay for is big. However, said she the municipality needs to save its money to show the government that Chatham-Kent is serious about fixing its problems.

“We’re not going to let the folks over out on Talbot Trail, Rose Beach Line, and Erie Shore Drive, that we have no plan,” Harrigan added.

Councillor Michael Bondy said council wasn’t “gutting this,” but simply bringing the figure down to lower this year’s overall tax increase.

“I believe that $1.25-million set aside is fair,” said Bondy.

The motion was successful with a 10-8 vote.

In other reductions, a motion from Councillor Doug Sulman to reduce the allocation for lifecycle inflation from four per cent to 3.3 per cent was approved.

Deliberations will continue Thursday and Tuesday. If needed, February 2 and 3 have been set aside. Written deputations of up to five minutes will be accepted. Submissions must be sent to ckfps@chatham-kent.ca before 3 p.m. each day.

All budget meetings will be broadcasted by YourTV and live-streamed on the YourTV Chatham-Kent YouTube page.