Cornwall City Council Debates $100K while Spending Millions on Water & Sewage – December 8, 2009

Early meeting of City Council with the focus on spending of Taxpayer Dollars.

Topics du Jour were the Water & Sewage Treatment budgets and cleaning the mess on Pitt and First for the parking lot in back of the stores on the North West corner.

First the sewage.    I love how at the public end of a meeting a nugget like debate over $100K takes the focus when the real issue to myself and at least a few of the councilors was the fact that council rammed through a 3% rate hike pretty much equal to the amount being spent on the implementation of water meters.   Councilor Elaine Macdonald actually lobbied for a 3.78% rate hike which the mayor delayed or squished depending on your take as the events unfolded.

hugCouncilor Mary Ann Hug was feisty as she weighed into both issues of the evening.  She focused on Cornwall having the lowest commercial water rates of the over 80 municipalities polled and how she felt that the water increases and costs are unfairly burdened by residents.

Councilor Denis Thibault lobbied for a 0% increase as did Councilor Mark Macdonald who singled out Seniors and those on fixed incomes whose benefits will not rise 3% to keep up with costs.

It’s truly ironic that the 3% is pretty much equal to the $450K that the city will be spending to implement the water meter program this year, out a total estimated at over $5 million dollars.  Something this writer is very much against.

I say let Cornwall be an inviting community.  You want population growth adding water meters isn’t the way to go, and for those that do want them I just wish they’d admit to them being the money grabbing devices they truly are including the forcing of residents to pay for them.

Councilor Mark Macdonald also asked for a recorded vote which showed that he, councilors Hug, & Thibault voted against the tax increase of 3%.

The second hot topic of the evening was the issue of the dig at North West corner of Pitt & 1st Street where a group of business owners teamed up with the Heart of the City to clean up and implement parking behind their buildings.

Initial budget of $153 K.   After finding some old oil tanks and other issues the budget ballooned up past the $700K mark.   The city essentially will be eating costs over the $153K, but did so without public consultations.

Councilor Mark Macdonald asked about the legal ramifications as well as will the city be doing this for other property owners.   Questions also were raised about option and how the current building owners could not afford to foot this bill, but also could not get mortgages or financing now that the known issue was exposed.

It was suggested that if left on their shoulders the owners could end up bankrupt and then what would happen to the buildings.   Interesting questions, but the city only has about $1.4 M in their Brownfield account with $1M being a grant from the province.   Once used up those monies are gone unless the city starts pumping money into the fund.

Councilor Hug was especially opposed to the city picking up the tab.   “I have to face people and explain higher taxes” she stated, and also was upset at the lack of public consultation.

At the end of the day most likely the city will have to change the legaleze used in contracts as this precedent could become very expensive if every construction site in Cornwall that has dangerous waste has to be cleaned by the city.

What do you think Cornwall?  Should the city have spent another $500K + to clean up this site?

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1 Comment

  1. I volunteered for a water meter, and am quite looking forward to when I am actually billed for the water I use. I was originally skeptical, until I received my water tax bill. My annual water taxes are nearly $800. WHAT? I have had my water meter in for nearly 3 months now, and have used less than 30 cubic meters. If you take the ontario average for water prices, roughly $1.30 per cubic meter, my annual bill will be less than $200 (including sewage).
    I think the only people that will see an increase in their water bills are those that constantly water their lawns, or have large pools that they are always having to top up. Those of us with 2 or more bathrooms will see a dramatic decrease in our water taxes. But don’t worry, you still get to give that money to the city because we cant forget about the fact that we will still have to pay for our unnecessary new arena.

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