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Courier Press Thursday, February 2, 2017

Budget focuses on infrastructure deficit

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David Gough Courier Press Citizens who wanted to pass on a message to encourage Chatham- Kent council to be frugal with tax money, made their point at a budget open house at the Wallaceburg Municipal Centre on Jan. 25. About a dozen people were on hand to ask questions and find more information about a proposed 1.96-per-cent tax hike during the draft budget presentation. This increase ? which isn?t the final figure ? would work out to a $54 annual impact on a home assessed at $161,300. In 2016, the municipality had $294.2 million in revenue, of which half was funded by the municipal tax base. Open houses also took place in Tilbury, Thamesville, Blenheim and Chatham. While people urged council to cut services, such as the Capitol Theatre, there were no major hotbutton issues. In previous years, Chatham-Kent had floated the idea of closing the Wallaceburg indoor pool and the Lou Stonehouse Memorial walking bridge, with both being on a list of potential service reductions. Both were later removed from the list during deliberations. Coun. Carmen McGregor said the proposed budget focuses on building up Chatham-Kent?s infrastructure base. ?Taking care of some of our roads and bridges,? she said. David Gough/Courier Press Thomas Kelly, Chatham-Kent?s general manager of infrastructure and engineering service, shares a chuckle with Chatham-Kent police chief Gary Conn at the budget open house held Jan. 25 at the Wallaceburg Municipal Centre. ?There are not many days that go by where I don?t talk to people with problems with potholes or road conditions, sewer and water conditions.? McGregor said if infrastructure issues are not addressed, it just leads to more problems down the road. ?I think it?s our responsibility to

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work towards getting that funding in place for not only for us but for future generations.? Other concerns raised during the Wallaceburg budget meeting included extra costs for the Capitol Theatre and the Chatham convention centre, and Chatham-Kent?s tax rate. Budget deliberations will take

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place Feb. 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 (if necessary). They will run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in council chambers. Five-minute presentations by citizens are welcome at each meeting. Sign up at the door. ? with files from Postmedia Network Our Flyer is at: 77 Margaret Ave., Wallaceburg Just over the Murray St. Bridge OPEN: 9:30 - 5:30 Tues. - Fri Sat.: 9:30 - 4:00


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