Special meeting set to address NOTL budget
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.