Hudson presents balanced budget for 2020
The end of the year is budget time and the town of Hudson held a special meeting on the evening of December 16 to present 2019 results, the budgetary plan for 2020, and a look ahead for spending as far as 2022. The orientation of council for this budget was to work on tax fairness and ensure that going forward taxes and budgets better reflect actual use.
Pro-Mayor Austin Rikley-Krindle opened the meeting and got straight to the business of the evening. Financial resource management consultant Pierre Charron presented the budget in French, while Rikley-Krindle followed up with an English translation for each slide.
“The budget was prepared in consultation with all of the (town’s department) directors,” said Charron, “and the reports were questioned and analyzed so that all the information in the budget is verified. This budget is balanced.”
Expense numbers to match use
The numbers on the slides showed the balance was there, but there were some major shifts in revenue and expenses as items were moved according to the direction taken by council. Explained Rikley-Krindle, “The orientation of council was to redistribute expenses to reflect actual expenses of the different services, so water, sewer, garbage, any of the services offered by the town.” The town is dedicated to working on a model of tax fairness, where residents are not taxed for services they don’t use (such as those not connected to municipal sewers).
Residential tax rate not final
As service-related taxes are increased in a move towards a more ‘user pays’ model, the general mill rate for residential property taxes is actually being reduced by 1.8 per cent to compensate in 2020, though that does not give the full picture of what residents can expect to see on their tax bills. Council did not have a final number to present, but plans to have it in the coming month.
Asked resident Marcus Owen in question period, “Vaudreuil is, I think, at a 3 per cent increase, Rigaud is 13… people would like to know, to walk out of here with that number. That’s a very important number.”
“We’re aiming for 2.3,” responded Rikley-Krindle. “That is our target.” Citizens will have to wait until numbers are finalized for service tariffs (such as sewers, water, debt repayment, and waste management and recycling) to learn if that target is met.
“We’re targeting to get that finalized by the January meeting of council,” confirmed Rikley-Krindle after the meeting. “We are working on tax fairness and we just need a little bit more time, but I think that number as an average is about where we’re going to land.”
Major expenses to come
The other orientation of council underscored at the beginning of the meeting was tackling the infrastructure deficit in the town, primarily repaving roads and shoring up water infrastructure, as well as conducting building maintenance on various municipal properties such as town hall, the buildings at Benson Park, and the fire hall.
The numbers will be available in full detail through the town’s website but, in short, major expenses budgeted for 2020 include $180,000 for building maintenance, and $1,765,000 for water infrastructure including a new drinking water well , pipe replacements, and refurbishing of existing pumping stations and the sewage treatment plant. The water related expenditures will be supported by subsidies from the TECQ (taxe sur l'essence et de la contribution du Québec) gas tax program, which provides federal and provincial funds for municipal infrastructure.
The biggest capital expense budgeted for 2020 is road resurfacing at $2,083,000 with even more to come for 2021 as the town takes on this long-neglected task.
Said Rikley-Krindle of the planned facilities and water expenditures, “We’re doing this maintenance now, so that we don’t fall into the same problem we’re facing with the roads.”