Levy bylaw for 2021 budget squeaks through first reading in 5-4 vote

The City of Thompson’s proposed 2021 financial plan, which was presented to the public April 29, will see residential mill rates rise by about 2 per cent and commercial rates by 1.6 per cent, according to the levy bylaw, which passed first reading with a bare majority of councillors in favour at the April 26 council meeting.

If the levy bylaw passes second and third reading, the combined residential mill rate will be 46.62, up from 45.706 in 2020 and the commercial mill rate 55.429, up from 54.534 last year.

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The total value of all taxable property in the city rose slightly from $443,291,170 last year to $444,696,070 in the latest assessment rolls.

Five of the nine council members voted in favour of the levy bylaw but the four who opposed it did so vociferously.

“There’s no way in good conscience … that I could ever support a budget like this,” said Coun. Les Ellsworth, while Coun. Earl Colbourne said anyone who voted in favour of the levy bylaw  should be ashamed.

“We’re still spending money like crazy on things that, right now, we don’t need,” he said. "What we need right now for the citizens of Thompson is tax relief."

Deputy mayor Duncan Wong requested a recorded vote on the bylaw and Coun. Jeff Fountain said there were too many unknowns and too much unnecessary spending.

“There’s a lot of stuff in this budget … like Jumpstart and a number of other items like handi-transit and other issues, that I feel that we don’t need to be going down that road,” he said.

Only two of the council members who voted in favour of first reading of the bylaw really defended the proposed budget.

“All in all, I think we are giving a lot to our taxpayers in this budget and getting a lot of bang for our buck,” said Coun. Andre Proulx. “The money we're putting in, we’re multiplying. We’re making our tax dollars work.”

Though she characterized this year’s budget process as “tough,” Mayor Colleen Smook said residents may like what they see in it if they attend or view the financial plan presentation.

“They’ll be surprised with some of the great things that are happening in this budget,” the mayor said.

The city has to approve the budget and submit it to the province by May 15, five days after their next and only council meeting between now and the deadline.

 

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