The best way to ease some the pressures facing municipalities is to lower county taxes.
That seems to be the message from mayors from Petrolia and Central Lambton after meeting to talk about cost savings ideas.
Petrolia Mayor John McCharles invited the regional mayors to town last Tuesday to find ways to ease tight budgets. He says they agreed the best plan may be to make cuts to the Lambton County budget allowing local municipalities to raise their budgets without taxpayers paying more.
“We want to sit down with the treasurer of the county and go over options there,” McCharles tells The Independent. “The county has a fairly good reserve system and plans to put more money in reserves in 2015; are there places we could look at the county budget and reduce the burden on municipalities?”
“We really don’t want to cut services but with a $200 million budget in the county there has to be room to move.
“The county is putting $4 million into reserves this year – that’s a lot of taxpayers money,” says McCharles point out the reserves could be used to fund county projects or the county could lower taxes by putting less into savings.
“It’s not just rural municipalities that would benefit; all municipalities are in a bit of a bind.
“The lower tier has been very, very frugal or basically bare bones and we can’t really afford to go on like that forever,” he says noting the infrastructure deficit is growing with roads and other basic services suffering.
McCharles says a group of the mayors will meet with the treasurer before budget to understand where cuts could be made without harming other programs.
The group also plans to meet with the South West Economic Association to see what help they might be able to provide.
McCharles adds he expects the mayors to get together again in the near future.