Budget goes to council for fine tuning

 In News

Clearview council took its first crack at the 2021 budget during the first of two budget workshops on Monday.
The staff-proposed $15.4-million budget represents a 3.93 per cent increase in spending over last year’s budget, or a 2.17 per cent tax increase once county, education and policing taxes are factored in. Treasurer Kelly McDonald said she is starting out with estimations that the county council could approve a one per cent increase, although it is aiming for no increase, that education taxes will go down by one per cent and that policing costs are going down by 0.16 per cent.
Budgets by department include Public works at $7.6 million; Parks and recreation at $4.5 million; Fire and emergency services at $1.5 million; and library services at $92,000.
Council is tasked with making cuts if they wish to get the budget under the desired two per cent mark.
McDonald said staff has been asked to present budgets without factoring in pandemic costs because there are so many unknown factors. CAO Steve Sage said that the exact costs of the pandemic are unknown but that funds coming down from the province have “helped make the hit a little easier to take.”
During a three-hour discussion, council did not make any specific cuts to spending proposals including adding a full-time staff member at the Clearview Youth Centre, so there can always be two staff members on duty during hours of operation.
Other proposed spending includes $25,000 for the recruitment of a new CAO, due to Sage’s retirement at the end of the year, $50,000 for cemetery software, $50,000 for consulting services for an economic development plan, $225,000 for improvements to the Stayner Arena and landscaping, $50,000 for the continuation of the Community Improvement Plan fund and $50,000 for the beautification fund.
There is $75,000 earmarked for a council chamber renovation but first, council will be going through another ward boundary review to discuss any increases or decreases to the number of wards, or alternatively switching to an at-large system of representation, to determine how many seats are needed. Accessibility will be another consideration. It remains to be seen if pandemic precautions will also be a factor.
The budget also includes contributions to the Affordable Senior Housing Reserve ($100,000) and the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital fund for the construction of the new hospital ($50,000).
The next budget workshop is scheduled for Nov. 30. The budget will go to council for final approval in the New Year.

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