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Zero tax success for counties budget


getting early approval of its annual budget. «Very happy,» he said during a later phone interview. «Everybody’s givingme the verbal approval.» Warden Kirby noted that keeping the counties budget at a zero-per cent increase should also have trickle-down benefits for member municipalities still working on their own budget plans. «It gives an opportunity for the lower-tier municipalities to raise a little more funds (for projects), and some of them are fairly strapped,» he said. Getting early approval for the budget also means the UCPR can take advantage of ear- lier public tender opportunities for some of its capital works projects contracts. Many contractors will offer lower bids in an effort to secure a full year roads abut on agricultural lands.” The UCPR council reviewed a notice from the Ontario Good Roads Associa- tion (OGRA) about the Superior Court decision. It has decided to pursue the matter through both the upcoming OGRA confe- rence in Toronto later this month and also through the Eastern OntarioWardens Cau- cus (EOWC). The Association of Municipa- lities of Ontario (AMO) is also looking into lobby action on the issue.

Counties council asked for a zero tax rate on the new budget and that is what it got. Property owners in Prescott and Russell counties can look forward to at least one break on their tax bills in the spring. Staff at the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR) office in L’Orignal havemanaged to whittle down the 2015 budget plan to elimi- nate the chance of a property tax increase this year from the counties. «We brought it down to zero,» said Sté- phane Parisien, UCRP chief administrator, following the January 28 counties council session. «Everyone was kind of pleased.» The preliminary report on the 2015 UCPR budget projected a possible four per cent tax increase tomake up the $40.3millionmunic- ipal levy needed for the counties to deal with all operation and capital works expenses not already covered through senior government grants and other revenue sources. Counties council directed administration to find a way to bring the budget down to a zero tax increase as has been possible with the last two counties budgets. Several indicated they would settle for a maximum two per cent increase if necessary. Staff reviewed the list of expenses pro- posed for 2015 and were able to reduce it by about $1.5 million. Much of the cost- cutting was in the public works area while still allowing the counties to continue with many planned road improvements. Parisien

Counties council asked for a zero tax rate on the new budget and that is what it got .

«It seems to be going to fly,» he said. Warden Robert Kirby expressed satis- faction at the likelihood of the UCPR again

anticipates no problem in seeing the re- vised budget plan approved by the end of February.

Road salt worries for the counties

claimed that the county public works de- partment’s use of road salt for winter high- waymaintenance was responsible for some crop losses on the 96-acre farm. Stéphane Parisien, chief administrator for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR), noted that the precedent-setting civil court ruling is worrisome for local winter road mainte- nance in this region. “About 70 per cent of our local economy is agriculture,” Parisien said during a phone interview Jan. 29, “and most of our county


Spreading road salt is standard practice for winter traffic safety throughout the province. But a recent civil court ruling has raised some eyebrows at the Prescott- Russell counties office. An Ontario Superior Court decision awarded a Lambton County farmer with more than $100,000 in damages after he

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