Sundridge town council has approved its 2022 budget.
The increase over 2021 is 2.48 per cent.
It took members of council several regular and special meetings to arrive at the 2.48 per cent increase.
The percentage rise is almost half of what was first proposed at an earlier meeting when council debated increasing the budget by 4.6 per cent.
Although inflation is running above eight per cent so far this year and the 4.6 per cent was well below inflation, Mayor Lyle Hall noted “it’s still a big hit for taxpayers of the municipality.”
Hall and councillors wanted to lower that amount but were limited in what could be reduced since the municipality has no control over servicing costs like the OPP, the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, the District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board, land ambulance and the Eastholme Home for the Aged.
Coun. Enzo Seca said he wanted the budget to come in with a 2.6 per cent increase but Hall said “even 2.6 per cent is higher than normal.”
Deputy Mayor Shawn Jackson argued for an increase of just below three per cent, adding that would allow the municipality to maintain its existing infrastructure in a climate of rising inflation.
“We need to look at the budget from the point of view of the rising cost of business,” Jackson said.
“The increase has to fall in line with that or we might handcuff the new council. The increase might not be favoured by residents, but if we give them the information, most will understand why the rise is necessary.”
Jackson added an increase of 2.9 per cent would be appropriate at this time.
The one area where council agreed was the budget increase needed to be below three per cent.
After going through the budget expenditures line by line council reduced road work where it could for a year and also reduced the fire department equipment reserve for one year.
Fire and roads represented big savings and additional money was saved by not carrying out cosmetic-related work.
Although the budget increase came in far below the number council had initially started out with, there is an implication the new council has to deal with in 2023.
Staff pointed out to council that reducing money for fire apparatus this year meant the municipality would have to address that shortfall sometime next year.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget