Quinte West has approved its 2017 operating budget with a 1.98% tax hike.
Monday night, council signed off on its $95.4 million budget (the city is on the hook for $45.6 million) and approved a trio of capital projects including $810,000 for the waterfront trail expansion project; $350,000 for renovations to the Trenton Town Hall and $240,000 for lighting at the new Bayshore Field baseball diamond.
The 1.98% hike works out to $49.80 a year on an average residential home valued at $202,000.
Tasked with finding additional savings bringing the proposed increase down from 2.2%, Director of Corporate & Financial Services said they were able to cut $40,000 across the various departments.
Clazie explained with the additional revenue from the base now totaling $8.6 million and department cuts the city saved taxpayers $110,000. He added 90% of the additional PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) monies will go into reserves and 80% went to capital reserves which allowed for the funding of the three additional projects. The remaining 10% will go into a contingency fund.
When the City approved its $23 million capital budget last fall, it allocated $730,000 of city reserves for four projects (Town Hall, field lighting, waterfront trail and Batawa Community Kitchen.) on the premise the the remaining half would be funded through government grants. Since then, the City learned it was denied funding for the Trenton Town Hall, the Bayshore baseball diamond lights, the waterfront trail and Batawa Community Centre kitchen through Canada 150 and Ontario 150 grants programs. Clazie said they are in conversations with the Bata family about renovations to the Batawa community kitchen and they are moving to have it put forward during 2018 capital budget discussions.
Clazie said they were able to go back and look at some of the projects they completed in the last couple of years that came in under budget.
“When we added in another $200,000, we had a pot of money around $1.4 million,” explained Clazie. “All combined that allowed for the purchase of the town hall project, lighting and water front trail project.”
One of the city projects that staff touted coming in under budget was the $2.2 million for resurfacing of Telephone Road and part of Hamilton road. The added savings is allowing for an additional 2 kilometres of Hamilton Road to be resurfaced plus soccer pitch and baseball field lighting. The lighting will be provided in a bundle package by Electro Cables Inc in Trenton.
The lighting announcement was a welcomed one for Quinte West Amateur Baseball Association president Chris Lisle who was in attendance. Lisle and fellow members of the association have been vocal in recent weeks about the need for lighting for safety and scheduling reasons.
He said the first game will be at the first of May and he’s thrilled to tell the Quinte Royals at their practice this Friday. “They’re gonna love it,” Lisle beamed. “They love night games.”
Lisle said when it comes to tournaments, lights will be a game changer.
Mayor Jim Harrison praised both the soccer and baseball lighting projects. He said he’s sure they will be used well by thousands of kids over the summer months.
Overall, the mayor said he was pleased with staff’s diligence in finding additional savings for Quinte West taxpayers.
“They did an excellent job,” he said. “We’re using our resources to make this a healthier community. Better roads, better activities with more activities for everybody and that’s what we are trying to do is make this a healthier community. We are very lucky with what we have here and what we have to offer.”