Special meet­ing set to ad­dress NOTL bud­get

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - NEWS - SUZANNE MA­SON

Pen­cil sharp­en­ing con­tin­ued at Ni­a­gara-on-the-Lake coun­cil Mon­day to try to wres­tle the town’s pro­jected 2018 prop­erty tax hike down fur­ther, but no fur­ther cuts were ap­proved at the meet­ing.

In­stead, coun­cil de­cided to hold an­other meet­ing this week to re­view the bud­get to look for more ways to pare ex­pen­di­tures. Coun­cil­lors voted to re­ceive the sec­ond draft of the op­er­at­ing bud­get to­talling about $11 mil­lion and about $8 mil­lion for the pro­posed cap­i­tal bud­get.

Last week the town’s fi­nance com­mit­tee ap­proved in­creas­ing park­ing rates by 25 cents an hour and cut­ting some ex­penses, in­clud­ing resur­fac­ing of a dock area park­ing lot and re­duc­tions in ex­pense ac­counts for coun­cil­lors and se­nior staff and em­ployee recog­ni­tion ini­tia­tives.

Cur­rently, the pro­posed prop­erty tax in­crease is just more than seven per cent, down from the ini­tial pro­jec­tion of 11 per cent in the first bud­get draft.

Mean­while, a mo­tion by Coun. Betty Dis­ero was nar­rowly de­feated Mon­day that the town give the mu­seum a three per cent hike to its $154,000 op­er­at­ing bud­get next year. She ar­gued that the ad­di­tional funds, amount­ing to $4,600, are nec­es­sary to deal with the in­creased costs of staffing.

“I think it’s fair,” she said. Coun. Jim Col­lard called an in­crease to the mu­seum’s bud­get “un­ten­able,” point­ing out that the or­ga­ni­za­tion re­ceived a large in­crease in fund­ing last year.

“It’s in­cum­bent for them to live within their bud­get,” he said.

Coun. Paolo Miele also voted against Dis­ero’s mo­tion.

“We have yet to bring this bud­get down to a re­spectable level,” he said.

On Thurs­day at 2 p.m., some of the coun­cil­lors will meet to go through the bud­get in more de­tail. The ad­di­tional meet­ing is of a sub­com­mit­tee of the town’s fi­nance com­mit­tee re­quir­ing a quo­rum of three coun­cil­lors.

The third draft of the op­er­at­ing and cap­i­tal bud­gets goes to com­mit­tee-of-the-whole Dec. 4 with fi­nal ap­proval ex­pected by coun­cil Dec. 11.

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