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Woolwich approves budget

A Woolwich resident’s last-minute plea to reduce this year’s tax increase, backed by a petition, went for naught Tuesday night, as councillors formally approved the 2009 budget, enshrining a six-per-cent tax increase.

Glenn Fern called on council to review the budget, cutting programs or postponing projects in order to reduce the tax impact on residents already hit by the recession.

“The financial burden is increasing … from all levels of taxation. Where do you draw the line?” he asked, suggesting councillors take political responsibility for their choice to impose such a large increase at this time.
“You were elected to make hard decisions.”

Councillors responded the budget reflects established commitments – including major capital projects and staff wage increases – and maintains levels of service residents have demanded.

Of Fern’s petition, Coun. Mark Bauman noted few people would be supportive of tax increases out of context, but with the full picture would agree they want the services provided.

“Any time you ask people if they want a six-per-cent tax increase, they’re going to say ‘no,’” he said, adding that each one percentage point decrease in the rate amounts to only $5 for the average taxpayer.

At six per cent, the increase adds about $30 a year to the average bill.

Also approved Tuesday night was a water-rate increase of 9.4 per cent, to $1.24 per cubic metre from $1.14. The wastewater rate will climb by 13.6 per cent, to $1.48 per cubic metre from $1.30.

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