After its first budget deliberations, which took place on December 11, Champlain Township is considering a 4.9 per cent tax increase. This increase does not include the three per cent tax rate increase recently approved by the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (this upper-tier counties levy is part of municipal tax bills.)

But township treasurer Kevin Tessier emphasized that the county increase plus the municipal tax increase of 4.9 per cent will not add up to a 7.9 per cent increase on tax bills.

For 2019, for a property with a residential evaluation, the county tax portion on the tax bill represents 35.06 per cent of the whole tax bill and the municipal levy represents 51.08 per cent, with the school taxes representing 13.86 per cent.

The three per cent county increase is only applicable on the 35.06 per cent of the bill for the county. Once the whole tax bill, with no increase for school taxes is taken into consideration (the school tax rate is decreasing for two years), the global increase on the tax bill would be 3.55 per cent, including the municipal tax increase.

But according to Champlain Township Mayor Normand Riopel, the $185,000 that the counties is giving to Champlain Township for roads is the equivalent of that three per cent increase (1 per cent equals about $61,000 in the Champlain Township budget.)

Riopel says that the taxes in Champlain Township are the third-lowest of all eight municipalities which are part of Prescott-Russell.

Although the draft budget documents had pointed to a 3.9 per cent increase, West Hawkesbury ward councillor Sarah Bigelow suggested adding a one per cent increase to allow the township to top up its reserve funds, keeping the increase to just under five per cent.

Municipal taxation in 2020 is estimated at $6,377,059, an increase from $6,281.810 in 2019. Municipal council salaries and expenses are estimated at $322,863 for 2020, up from $318,304 in 2019.

A few of the draft budget highlights include: policing costs of $1,437,877 ($1,446,672 in 2019), $2,372,454 for transportation (including roads and maintenance), compared to $2,259,805 in 2019 and $939,003 for parks and recreation ($887,155 in 2019), $30,166 for day care ($53,950 inn 2019), $190,559 for the Champlain Library (compared to $179,256 in 2019) and $49,549 for planning ($86,660 in 2019) and $213,451 for economic development ($113,845 in 2019).

Capital projects lined up for 2020 include $38,000 for tree removal and planting in the L’Orignal Park/Desjardins Park, the installation of new park signs at a cost of $38,000, a new play structure for Miner park, at a cost of $60,000, a softball safety net protection for L’Orignal Park and a tractor with a bucket blower/box blade mower at $30,000.

A budget line indicating Vankleek Hill Library brick — debt payment in the amount of $39,918.96 per year for the next 15 years represents what would be spent if council decided to proceed with work recommended in an engineering study, which indicates work that needs to be done in relation to the library — in the amount of $476,550. The $7,000 engineering study is not public and council has asked for a second engineer’s report on the building. Riopel says that he is not able to discuss the details of the report, which was ordered by the township at the time that the brick wall was being replaced on the east side of the library building this year.

Conversion of the final effluent electrical valves to include a battery back-up fail-safe feature will cost $10,000 and an additional $15,000 will be spent on the plant roof rehabilitation.

L’Orignal standpipe building roof rehabilitation will cost $10,000.

A submersible pump replacement and a lagoon outfall valve replacement, at costs of $10,000 each, will take place in the Vankleek Hill wastewater system.

New chlorine and ammonia pumps ($20,000) and standpipe building roof rehabilitation will take place in Vankleek Hill, at a cost of $10,000.

Work on the St-Denis and Stephen Street includes relining of the storm and sanitary sewer with surface rehabilitation at a cost of about $1.34 million.

A second budget meeting will take place in the township council chambers on December 19 at 1 p.m. Council will review the adjusted figures and if the draft budget is agreed-upon, it will then be presented at a regular council meeting for formal approval.