BY NATE SMELLE
Council had another look at the proposed $11.8-million operating budget for 2017 during the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, Jan. 30.
Prior to treasurer Cari Pupo’s presentation of the revised budget, CAO Darren Ottaway took a moment to express his contentedness with the final draft, describing it as “a very progressive budget.”
“We know that the community is growing, we know that we have additional demands on our resources, yet we didn’t want to come in with a budget that would satisfy tax rates at the expense of services,” he said.
The 2017 budget brings with it an increase of 4.69 per cent for ratepayers in Pelham. Pupo explained that this translates into an increase of approximately $69.60 for homeowners with a residential property with an average assessment of $316,400.
The budget was developed, she said, to align current customer service levels and increased services with pending growth, funding for one-time expenditures and a responsible tax rate for Pelham residents.
Pupo said that reductions were made in every department to help reduce the impact of the increase on ratepayers.
“The ratepayers were at the heart of every decision that we’ve made with respect to this budget and the tax levy that we are proposing to Council,” she said.
“We’ve heard budget requests from individuals within the community and we have made decisions based on those budget requests with respect to how we are going to manage them.”
The total proposed increase of net expenditures for 2017 amounts to $518,544, once offsets from other departments are factored in.
The largest increase of $365,798 came from the cost of hiring three new staff, staff compensation review adjustments, and health benefit increases. The rising cost of hydro was also reflected in the budget in the $33,515 increase to the Town’s utility costs.
Library patrons will be happy to hear that the expanded hours they have been enjoying at the new Maple Acre branch in Fenwick will continue thanks to Council’s approval of the library’s budgetary request of $28,000.
Council passed the budget at their Monday meeting.