When asked for clarification on this point, Mayor Page explained: “This is money we’ve been spending for the past seven years (since 2005) to improve our infrastructure.”
“The money was borrowed to build and improve roads, sidewalks, bridges, and most importantly, to install better water pipes for the new water treatment plant we’ll be putting in in the spring.”
“What’s the point of putting in a new plant when we have leaky pipes in the ground?” justified the mayor.
Later in the meeting he took the opportunity to point out that while taxes in North Hatley are higher than most municipalities, “what most people don’t understand is we [in North Hatley] have invested in our infrastructure. With other municipalities that cost will be coming down the line.”
“This is what you need to make clear to your readers,” he told the Stanstead Journal.
Another big chunk of Castagner’s pie of 2013 expenditures will be the cost of public security.
“Like the cost of financing our debt,” said the mayor, “certain costs are out of our control—take, for example, the cost of the SQ. The provincial government decides how much we will pay each year for police services, and we pay it. It’s not something we have any say in.”
But the mayor was quick to point out that although taxes in North Hatley are high, the 2013 increase in the mill rate (the amount of tax paid for every $100 of assessed property value) will only be 1.26%. “And that’s quite low,” he said. According to the numbers presented by Castagner, total revenues in 2013 will increase by around $115,000, or about 5% from 2012.
This money will be put into Public Security (police, fire, etc), Environmental Health, and debt financing.
Less money will be spent on Administration, Transport and Culture in 2013 than in 2012.
After the brief interruption for questions and clarification, Castagner seemed impatient to get back to the business of present- ing his budget. He did so with such gusto and enthusiasm that at the end he was awarded with a warm round of applause.
“Not bad for a dyslexic,” he joked about his rapid-fire presention (although it was not clear if he was being ironic).
Following the meeting a few of the councillors tarried, chatting with the Stanstead Journal, but Castagner seemed impatient to clear out of the room.
“Tomorrow,” he said, waving his hand lightheartedly when asked for soft copies of his budget numbers. “I’ll send you everything you need tomorrow.”
He had a look of a triumph about him, clearly pleased with his budget work, happy that the heavy lifting was over. When the mayor formally closed the meeting and asked if there were any final questions, Castagner threw up his arms in jest and said: “No more! Not tonight! We’re done!”
Then he mimed a shotgun, swung it in this reporter’s direction—the only remaining member of the audience, after all—and fired.