The new year is not here yet, but the 2020 United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) budget is now official.  Council approved the budget when it met on Wednesday, November 27.

The total 2020 budget contains $126,668,400 in estimated spending.  In 2019, the counties spent $113,252,700.  This means that the UCPR will be spending $13,415,700, or 11.8 per cent more, in 2020.

Council approved the budget after instructing the finance department to keep the tax rate increase at three per cent for 2020.  In 2019, the rate increase was 3.8 per cent.  In 2020, the UCPR will collect $46,409,800 based on the three per cent rate increase alone, which will generate $1,334,900 more than the $45,074,900 collected in 2019. In addition, $982,000 based on assessment growth (it was $800,000 in 2018) will also be collected in 2020, bringing the total taxes collected to $47,391,800. Collecting $2,316,900 more in taxes in 2020 over 2019 represents an increase of five per cent more taxes collected.

According to Treasurer Valérie Parisien, the average value of a residential property in the UCPR in 2019 was $266,773.  With the three per cent tax rate increase in 2020, $32.55 more in property taxes will be collected from owners whose properties are of that value.

No changes in the budget expense estimates were made following the November 13 Committee of the Whole meeting when council approved adding a $10,000 contribution to the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus (EOWC), $52,000 in 2020 insurance premiums, and a contribution to the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN), project to improve internet and mobile phone service across the eastern Ontario.  However, council did vote to make 2020 the final year it would provide funding to the EORN.

TPRT support to be discontinued in 2021

Tourisme Prescott-Russell Tourism (TPRT) will also receive $182,000 in funding from the counties in 2020, but that support will also be discontinued in 2021.  The funding for the Conseil des Arts Prescott-Russell Arts Council (CAPRAC) will be maintained at the 2019 level of $101,800.

Council also approved the component of the 2020 budget that will see each mayor on UCPR council paid based on population according to census figures.

The last census was in 2016 and it counted the population of the UCPR at 89,333.  In 2020, mayors on UCPR council will receive $31,057.70 or 35 cents per resident.  The warden will receive $52,712.76 or 59 cents per resident. The next census is to take place in 2020, which means UCPR council remuneration will increase or decrease based on the new population figures.

The actual approval of the 2020 budget by UCPR council was quite uneventful.  There was no commentary, debate, or questions asked by the assembled mayors and it was approved unanimously.  Clarence-Rockland Mayor Guy Desjardins was not present at the meeting.