© Brian McInnis/The Guardian
Elaine Barnes, chairwoman of the Cornwall town council's finance committee, presents the budget for the town during the regular monthy meeting of council Wednesday night.
The Town of Cornwall brought down a good news budget Wednesday night that boasts no tax increases this year.
It’s the second consecutive budget the current council, now in its second year, has passed without any increase under water and sewer services or commercial and non-commercial properties.
“It’s careful planning,’’ said Coun. Elaine Barnes, chairwoman of the town’s finance committee. “We’re trying to be fiscally responsible and not pass it on to the residents. That’s the last resort. Fortunately, we were able to (avoid a tax hike) this year.’’
The last tax hike came in 2014 when residents were hit with an $18 hike per resident to cover the rising cost of operations, which included increased staffing levels. It was only the second increase since amalgamation in 1995.
There’s more good news, fiscally speaking.
Barnes reports this budget factors in refinancing of the town hall, which includes reducing the amortization period by five years. The town estimates it will save roughly $150,000.
“The loan was coming up for renewal this summer and we were looking at the interest rates. We had the option of continuing it over X number of years but the option was there, if we pay a little bit more we can get it paid back a little faster. We were in a financial position where we are able to pay that little bit more every year and cut that loan by five years.’’
The town was also able to absorb a half cent increase in the fire rate that was passed on by the North River Fire Department.
There are no major capital projects on the books this year. The town is still waiting for its infrastructure servicing and development plan, which aims to map out how much needs to be spent and where.
Potential capital projects, to name a few, include repairs and upgrades at the wastewater treatment plan, repairs/replacement of one of the Meadow Bank wells, upgrades to the water system on the Trans-Canada Highway, connection of Madison Heights to the highway, connection of Mercedes Drive to the highway, as well as sidewalk replacement on Meadow Bank Road and installation of sidewalks on Ferry Road.
There was brief mention of the transit system but talks are ongoing with partners in Charlottetown and Stratford.
And, the revenue sharing issue with the provincial government came up.
The town is short $167,000 this year under the current formula. That’s the difference between the value of the grant this year ($439,500) and the value of the 20-cent tax credit ($637,000).
Premier Wade MacLauchlan has agreed to revisit the issue. Municipalities across the province are hopeful more money will flow next year as a result of talks.