Petrolia politicians hear from the public on the budget

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Lonnie Cope wants to know how his 87 year-old mother living in her own home will be able to afford more taxes this year.

The Petrolia resident was one of several dozen who came to town hall to get some answers about a proposed eight per cent municipal tax increase.

The town was to consider the document Tuesday night, after the open house. It calls for an eight per cent increase in municipal taxes including a five per cent increase for a Capital Sustainability Fund to repair roads.

While municipal spending is increasing, the county and education portion of the property tax bill is decreasing. That means taxpayers will notice a four per cent increase on the entire bill – about $118 this year for a home assessed at $200,000.

Cope wanted some answers on why the municipality is spending money it doesn’t have. And he wanted to know how seniors would pay for it.

“My 87-year-old mother is in her home; how is she going to afford this? She can’t. We want to try to keep people at home as long as possible, but she can’t afford it,” he says.

Former Councilor Ira Downer was also looking for answers on administration costs. While the town’s director of finance went to great lengths to explain some of the items, Downer still has questions. “I’m concerned about my taxes.”

Ernie Hardy sat quietly on his walker waiting for what he thought would be a presentation on the budget. He says he’s “disgusted” with the way the town is handling the finances.

Several others at the meeting told The Independent they were expecting a public meeting where town officials explained the numbers instead of an open house to ask questions.

Cope for one wanted more public input before the budget was passed.

And while many were upset with the increase, Peter Davis was disappointed his street, Garden Cresent, wasn’t on the town’s ten-year plan for replacement. He hopes by talking to councilors and staff, the project will get on the radar.