Kingston City Council has put its preliminary stamp of approval on a $400,267,000 million budget for 2020, approving a tax rate increase of 1.5 per cent for operating costs and a further 1 per cent for capital projects. In doing so, council also has confirmed capital budgets through the end of their term.
The 2020 budget is being funded through $141.1 million in non-taxation dollars from payments-in-lieu revenue, increases in municipal fees and charges, external grants and subsidies, and transfers from reserve funds.
The remaining $242.1 million will be provided by property taxes. Basing their numbers on the average property assessment in the city of $319,073, the combined 2.5 per cent increase will reflect in a $90 increase to the tax bill for the year, according to the Municipal Operating and Capital Budget.
Most of the two-night meeting went pretty smoothly, with external agencies presenting their budgets on Monday and the internal departments and preliminary approval taking place Tuesday night. The second evening wasn’t without it’s fair share of conflict, however.
Following the second round of allowing councillors the opportunity to speak to the budget, and with indication from Councillor Jeff McLaren that he would like additional time to speak, Councillor Simon Chapelle motioned to take a vote on the budget. This was approved with an 8-4 vote, with Councillors McLaren, Rob Hutchison, Robert Kiley, and Lisa Osanic voting against Chapelle’s request. Following this defeat, McLaren opted to delay his voting on all 10 of the subsequent budget votes.
One final motion was also debated briefly which would see the Kingston Economic Development Corporation funding disbursed only to fifty per cent, withholding the balance until the agency completes a strategic plan. If approved, the treasurer noted, this would be the first time she can recall that the city would be withholding funding to an agency.
The budget and the additional funding withholding motion will return to Council for final approval at the Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019 meeting. Council will next regular meeting will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019.