Municipality of Chatham-Kent Council approved the 2023 budget and a 5.64% tax increase on Wednesday night, February 1, 2023 after their third night of deliberations.
West Kent Councillor Lauren Anderson entered a successful motion, which narrowly passed by a vote of 9-8.
In favour of approving the budget were Councillors Anderson, Trevor Thompson, Aaron Hall, Carmen McGregor, Brock McGregor, Marjorie Crew, Amy Finn and Alysson Storey, along with Mayor Darrin Canniff.
Opposed to approving the budget were Councillors Anthony Ceccacci, Ryan Doyle, John Wright, Steve Pinsonneault, Conor Allin and Michael Bondy.
Before Councillor Anderson made he motion to pass the budget, Gord Quinton, Chatham-Kent’s chief financial officer, provided an update and recap on the budget process this year.
“We started at 6.35% and if you remember on our opening night, 58% of our budget requests had to do with infrastructure… that has been trimmed back some,” Quinton said.
“We have made some cuts to lifecycle inflation. About half of the budget increase is still related to infrastructure. We still had to deal with the provincial downloading, that was 0.15%. Maintaining existing services were 0.61% and there has been some adjustments to the business cases.”
Councillor Brock McGregor, who is the chair of the budget committee, thanked the members of Council for their work, and the financial services team and executive management team for preparing the budget this year.
“This is certainly a learning process with a new format and as our first year together here as a Council and as a budget committee,” he said.
“I think we respectfully debated a number of items and tackled what was really a challenging budget. So I wanted to congratulate everyone for that hard work.”
On the opening night of budget deliberations, Councillor Ceccacci entered a successful motion, which lowered the 6% inflation number for capital and lifecycle costs to 4%.
Ceccacci’s motion resulted in a savings of approximately $1.36-million, which proved to be the biggest cut from the budget this year.
Over the next two nights of deliberations, Council added a number of items to the budget, which had appeared in the “not recommended” section of the budget document.
These items, included: an increase in transfer to the affordable housing reserve, wi-fi managed services at Riverview Gardens, funding for a gravel road study, pump track maintenance in Chatham, $120,000 for increased parks and trails operating costs, Zonta Park maintenance, Talbot Trail Park operating costs and $100,000 from strategic reserves for physician recruitment and retention.
Also during the final night of budget deliberations, the committee approved $4.5-million from the strategic development reserve for the Wallaceburg hospital build. More details about this story can be found, here: $4.5-million approved for Wallaceburg hospital build
More details about the 2023 budget can be found, here.