Montague aims for no tax increase during budget talks for 2021

·2 min read

A zero per cent tax increase for next year, a budget similar to 2020, as well as the purchase of a new fire truck were some of the items discussed during a special virtual Township of Montague meeting on Oct. 29.

“We’re looking for a zero per cent tax increase,” Coun. Jeffery Carroll said.

“Zero is the target number for me,” echoed Coun. Ian Streight.

Andrew Hodge, the township’s treasurer, said: “The 2021 budget for the bulk of departments is similar to last year’s. I don’t see any significant increase showing up that would directly impact the tax rate at this point.”

Hodge cautioned that nothing is final yet, and that “once we input everything, we will have a closer idea of where we’re at.”

The preliminary budget meeting, Hodge said, is “an opportunity to discuss and propose capital projects, look at priorities, look at service levels and the expectations as we look toward 2021.”

Hodge reported that council has accomplished some strategic plan items, such as developing the asset management plan, website upgrades, branding, developing more long-term planning for roads and repairing roads.

Fire Chief Miles Greer presented his plan on the preliminary pricing for ordering a new fire truck next year, for delivery in 2022.

“I think our best bang for our dollar would be to keep our old tanker and add a new one in 2022. It would serve our community better if we retain our truck and have two tankers in our fleet so we don’t call so much mutual aid from other departments,” Greer said.

Council discussed the purchase of new laptops to replace a few older, outdated ones in the office, as well as switching to a new software program to assist with electronic notices for tax bills. “This will save money on postage, envelopes, paper and staff time,” Hodge said.

As for server conversion for the township, Hodge reported that the township is “almost up to date.”

Public works manager Stephen Rothwell led the discussion on roads that need to be upgraded, and gravel application on 25 kilometres of roads. Bridge and culvert inspections, maintenance issues with the excavator and township trucks were also discussed.

Other items the council reviewed included street lighting, recreational events for next year, upgrades for livestreaming council meetings and fencing around Rosedale Centennial Hall’s play area for children’s safety.

Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News