'Still very fluid': McNab/Braeside treasurer, mayor weigh in on 2021 budget

·3 min read

McNab/Braeside’s $10-million 2021 budget, set to be passed on Dec. 15, is still “very fluid,” according to township treasurer Kelly Coughlin. She cannot comment on whether taxpayers will pay more taxes in 2021.

“I don’t want to give taxpayers the impression that there will be no increase. There are some items that need to be finalized in the coming weeks, that could change the numbers,” Coughlin said in a phone interview Dec. 1.

Mayor Tom Peckett, however, said he is confident that there will be “almost no increase in money required from the taxpayers” in an interview Nov. 26.

“There’s a little bit of tweaking but I fully expect (the 2021 budget) to be passed on Dec. 15,” he said. “It’s almost equal to last year’s budget.”

The first draft of the township’s 2021 budget proposed a 9.59 per cent tax levy increase over this year, with a big chunk of spending set aside for the roads department.

“Once it’s passed, we’ll explain how we got there. I can’t really quantify (it yet),” he said.

The pandemic has impacted next year’s budget. Expediting the systems required to stream public meetings online will be part of expenses next year.

The mayor talked about moving into a new township building in January this year, “getting the kinks out of (the building)” and tackling one of the priorities for council: being able to stream online.

“It was always on council’s agenda to get it done. With COVID-19, it’s taking a bit longer than we would have liked to. It’s been a work in progress for us,” Peckett said.

“That’s why it’s (included) in the budget. We’re getting there,” he said. He cannot disclose how much updating the systems will cost.

Coughlin said that the biggest consequence that the pandemic had on the township’s budget is on recreation programs. “We have to reimagine our programming because of the restrictions on the number (of participants). It impacts indoor programming, and there will be an impact on the revenue side of the things,” she said.

“Staff is trying to adjust the operating budgets. We still want to have money available to provide programming to the ratepayers. On the Dec. 15 budget, I will be providing a comprehensive report summarizing the key things included in the budget,” Coughlin added.

The treasurer stressed that there have been changes since their last council meeting. “The overall budget is a little over $10 million, that’s what it currently is. That is subject to change. Everything will be finalized on Dec. 15,” she said.

Asked if taxpayers can expect any surprises in the budget next year, the mayor said “not for me there isn’t (a surprise). It’s the same as usual, there’s always an increase in fuel cost and labour cost. It’s pretty well the usual.”

A notice is posted on the township’s website about the upcoming meeting:

“Notice is hereby given that the Council of the Township of McNab/Braeside intends to consider passing a Bylaw to adopt the 2021 Operating and Capital budgets in accordance with Section 290 of the Municipal Act, 2001 at the Regular Meeting of Council to be held on Dec. 15, 2021 at 7 p.m. at the Township Council Chambers, 2473 Russett Dr.”

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