Budget talks begin in Smiths Falls
Smiths Falls held its first budget deliberation meeting on Nov 13. Staff had prepared a preliminary draft of the budget, and were looking for direction in five core areas.
The preliminary budget included a $1.5 million shortfall, so staff were looking for direction on capital deferrals, proposed water and wastewater rates, the Community Improvement Program envelope, Community Donations and possible Hospital Donation.
It was clear from the outset that council had no appetite for tax increases greater than the rate of inflation. There was also resistance to the proposed 7 and 8 percent water and wastewater increases brought forward in the first draft.
By the end of the three and half hour meeting council members had managed to shave off $615,000 in capital projects leaving a shortfall of $900,000.
Projects like urban forest expansion, fencing replacement, signage and way finding along the waterfront were deferred. These were all projects identified in the strategic plan, but will have to be delayed until funds become available.
The meeting adjourned before council members could complete capital deferrals, tackle water rates, CIP contribution, or community and Hospital donations.
The next budget deliberation meeting has been called for Monday November 18th, at a Special Committee of the Whole to be tacked on to the regular Council Meeting.
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