Renfrew County council passes 2018 budget
SEAN CHASE/DAILY OBSERVER Renfrew County Council is comprised of the mayors and reeves who lead the county's 17 member municipalities. The County of Renfrew was established in 1861.
Renfrew County council unanimously passed a $47.9 million budget Wednesday that had divided members over the size of the tax levy.
The budget comes with a three per cent increase that will raise $43.9 million in revenue. The overall budget increased by $1.7 million in expenditures from last year. For homeowners with residential properties assessed at $199,000, which is the county's median property value, their taxes will rise from last year's mark of $714.35 to $720.76.
Arnprior Reeve Walter Stack, chairman of the finance and administration committee, thanked staff and department heads for keeping their increases to 1.7 per cent. However, he requested staff to announce the date for the next budget workshop, which will be undertaken in January 2019 after a new county council is sworn-in following this fall's municipal elections, much earlier so mayors and reeves can better schedule themselves to be there. At last week's budget workshop, five County councillors were absent when a recorded vote was called to accept the tax levy.
“We have 900 employees and it's $150 million dollars,” said Stack. “It's one day out of the year that is our number one responsibility. It's difficult to get full attendance and we need to be committed for the day.”
While the amount of councillors favouring the increase was lower than those opposing it, a weighted vote base on population ensured that the hike would go through. That vote was 82-66. Earlier, a motion by Admaston/Bromley Mayor Michael Donohue to lower the rate to 2.3 per cent was defeated. Supporting passage of the budget, Donohue was content that the matter was debated. He had advocated a decrease in the levy because he felt that the county had been building excessive surpluses to support a 10-year capital infrastructure plan.
“It was vigorously discussed, debated and argued,” he said. “It is important that we hash it out and then ultimately come together.”
This year, the county has planned $16.9 million in capital infrastructure improvements including $1.5 million for the Madawaska Bridge. Other roads slated for work include River Road in McNab/Braeside, Simpson Pit Road, Foymount Road, Opeongo Road, the Burnstown Road, Quadeville Road, Petawawa Boulevard and Murphy Road in Petawawa. The county will be spending $11.3 million for the paramedic service and two long-term care homes, an increase of $186,039 from last year. Another $6.7 million will go towards social housing, a hike of 6.4 per cent from 2017.