Windsor council approves budget_ tax rate steady, grants cut – local – the hants journal

Windsor councillors approved the operating, capital and water utility budgets along with the agreed upon community grants and other amendments during their March 22 meeting.

Deputy Mayor Laurie Murley voted against the grants portion of the budget, hoping to use some of the $3,000 contingency for community groups this year.

That portion of the budget still passed.

“I had hoped to have a discussion on it, but (Coun.) Geddes said it perfectly – we are in a year of austerity, there’s no question,” Murley said following the meeting. “I did play with that $3,000 to figure out how I’d like to see it go, but to be honest it’s hard to imagine that amount would have made a whole lot of difference anyway.”

There were a few last minute grant requests discussed at council, including the Newport and District Rink and the Gordon Hughes Tennis Club, but both received zero funds from council.

Geddes said it’s not easy saying no to worthy community groups, but there’s nothing left in the “cookie jar.”

“I’m not in favour of giving any further monies at this stage,” Geddes said. “We have a pittance left for the entire year. If we give that away now, there is nothing for anybody for any reason whatsoever. A $3,000 gift to the Brooklyn rink would be a few wheelbarrows full of gravel.”

Geddes suggested putting discussion on funding for the Newport and District Rink forward another year.

“I would love to be able to send them a cheque; I’d love to send everybody a cheque,” he said. “But the reality is the most important thing to the citizens of the community was to hold to tax rate.”

Acting Mayor John Bregante said there were a few minor alterations made to the budget after the initial discussion earlier this month.

“Things like that happen every year,” Bregante said. “It’s nothing major, it didn’t impact the tax rate up or down. We’d have loved to have seen it gone down.”

Councillors agreed that the $11 million wastewater treatment facility, currently under construction, has put a major strain on town finances.

“With a huge project being finished in a few months, on time and on budget,” Bregante said, while knocking on his wooden council chamber desk. “It’s strapping us for cash considering it was a flat tax assessment year.”

Chief administrative officer Coutinho said the last minute adjustments were made to fix small errors in the budget.

“It’s still important to fix that, because if $1,000 is important for grant applications, it’s also important in the budget to be adjusted,” Coutinho said.

The new hockey arena project doesn’t appear in the capital budget, as it’s not Windsor’s asset. The town previously committed $1 million towards the facility, which is expected to primarily coming from the gas tax revenue.

Hoping for federal cash

Town finance director Doug Armstrong said the town could possibly see infrastructure funds from the federal government this spring.

“If there is some infrastructure announcements, we’ll want to have some (capital projects) in our current year budget, 16/17, that way if we’re fortunate and get some infrastructure money, then council would be in a position to make a decision if they wanted to proceed with that,” Armstrong said.

Windsor CAO Louis Coutinho said it would be premature to make any comments regarding particular projects that could get a boost from the recent federal budget.

“We have been told to submit our projects that could come ahead if the opportunity arises,” Coutinho said. “We’re hoping that there is funding to allow us to move some things forward.”

“With all of the changes on the (budget), tax rates remain as is and with the capital budgeting, it’s just moving one project from one year to another so we’re prepared for infrastructure funds,” Armstrong said.

It’s not clear what projects were moved to the current year on the capital side.

Organizations:

Windsor council, Gordon Hughes Tennis Club

Geographic location:

Brooklyn, Windsor