The city’s operating budget debate gets underway in Belleville next week, with two days of discussions planned on April 10 and 11.
Staff have been given a target to present an operating budget with a maximum increase of 1.5% over last year, with no service reductions.
The total draft operating budget, including water, parking and sewer costs, is about $130 million, with $96.5 million of that to be paid through taxes.
That means, with the 5% increase in assessment and education taxes factored in, there’s a tax jump of between 2.76% and 4.1%, depending on where in the city you live
Those numbers look like this on the average assessment of $250,000:
– Belleville Urban: $112.83 or 2.78%
– Cannifton Urban: $107.34 or 2.76%
– Belleville Rural: $126.37 or 4.11%
– Cannifton Rural: $124.40 or 3.46%
Some of the pressures leading to the increase include rising costs for police and EMS services, community services and long term care.
The city’s capital budget approved last fall went up significantly, at 26.5%, which already leads to a 1.9% increase in taxes overall, with $1.7 million in capital projects to be funded by taxpayers.
From a debt perspective, the city took on more in 2017 and at the end of the year had a long term debt of $117.1 million.
Director of Finance Brian Cousins says part of the debt increase had to do with the major renovation to the Yardmen Arena, but that project is being financed without an extra burden on taxpayers.
The city’s credit rating was maintained at AA-, but with a stable outlook.
Councillors will also look at a number of potential new hires and programs.
There are suggestions from staff to hire a senior project supervisor in the information systems department and develop an information systems on-call protocol, along with an engineer in training.
There are also reports looking at hiring a full time customer service representative for the transit and operations and environmental services department, a full time equipment operator for the parks and rec department, and a new downtown development coordinator.
Councillors will also discuss developing a historical trolley tour bus at a cost of $31,550, and continuing to support the Belleville Senators park and ride shuttle, at a cost of $36,575.
Various other requests for funding will be made, with presentations from the city’s library, Quinte Waste Solutions, Bay of Quinte Marketing Board, Belleville Police Service, Hastings County and more, as council settles on the 2018 operational spending plan.
Quinte News will be at City Hall throughout the operating budget discussions with daily updates on how the process is going.