• James Armstrong

Revised Rigaud budget projected for end of February

Photo by James Armstrong Rigaud Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. defended fire department expenses in the face of looming budget cuts for the town.

The presentation of Rigaud’s reworked 2018 budget is slated for Monday, February 26 according to Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. “This is what we are aiming for right now, but it could change,” said the mayor in an interview February 13.

Reworking the 2018 budget was town council’s response to residents strongly protesting the municipal tax increase proposed in the budget presented and adopted on Tuesday, January 16.

Budget cuts for 2018

“We are very happy that all of those people came out Monday, January 22 because they gave us the authority to cut the budget in areas where, traditionally, we can’t cut,” said the mayor. He was referring to the special meeting called by council to approve the rates and tariffs ruling based on the budget that drew a capacity crowd of citizens objecting to an eight per cent increase in property taxes.

The mayor declined to reveal any details regarding the revised budget. “We are working on it right now, and it will be presented to the people before it is adopted,” he said. The approval of rates and tariffs will follow two days later. Gruenwald said municipal tax bills will be issued in early March.

Snow covered fire hydrants

PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG A Rigaud canine is unsure how to proceed doing what dogs do after finding a local fire hydrant difficult to access in recent days due to heavy snowfall.

The issue of fire hydrants not being cleared of snow was raised at the council meeting Monday, February 12 according to the mayor. “One person complained that the hydrant near his house hadn’t been cleared and another one said he called the town and they came and cleared it right away.”

Gruenwald said the delay was caused by the high volume of precipitation and the same crews dealing with the snow clearing also had to take care of a water main break. “It’s a work in progress and should be caught up by the end of the day,” he added.

Safety a high priority

Having the right equipment for the job is also part of the solution, according to Gruenwald. “We have two backhoes and one of them is very old. It has over 25,000 hours on it. So, we are evaluating the purchase of another one,” he said, adding he wasn’t willing to risk public safety for lack proper equipment.

“We can’t be without that equipment at any time.”

In a similar vein, the mayor said maintaining and upgrading training and equipment for firefighters is a high priority issue. “I will not send firefighters out to fight fires without them being properly trained and equipped,” he said. “That’s not going to happen.”

Currently, Rigaud has four permanent firefighters who have secondary duties when not fighting fires. Additional firefighters are available on an on-call basis.

“The objective is to have 10 firefighters on a fire site within 15 minutes of the call coming in,” he added. “Right now, we are also working in conjunction with Saint-Lazare to make this happen.” The area covered by the Rigaud Fire Department includes Très-Saint-Rédempteur and Pointe-Fortune.