When Hawkesbury council met on February 8, it approved the 2021 municipal budget.

The operational budget for 2021 contains $34,288,441 in expenses, which is an increase of $4,101,629 or 12 per cent from $30,186,812 in 2020.

The amount of tax revenue the Town of Hawkesbury is projected to collect in 2021 is $11,144,414, which is an increase of $246,625 or 2.5 per cent compared to 2020.

The overall property assessment value in Hawkesbury had increased to $859,773,600, or by 0.03 per cent, which equals $285,000.

An average residential house in Hawkesbury is valued at $162,370, which means that the municipal tax bill for such a property will increase by $39.23 in 2021.

Councillor Yves Paquette moved that the budget by-law be approved, and the motion was seconded by Councillor Lawrence Bogue.

Paquette said that Treasurer Philippe Timbers and his staff did an exceptional job on developing the budget, especially within the pressures of the ongoing pandemic.

“There are no cuts in services for the 2021 year. If services are disrupted, it is mainly due to the directives received by the provincial government due to COVID-19,” said Assaly in a separate conversation with The Review.

The 2021 capital budget for the Town of Hawkesbury is $12,022,500, which is $3,735,905 more from 2020.  The largest capital project is $1,420,500 to upgrade the chemical feed system, and $4,500,000 for clarifier, filtration, and backwash upgrades at the water treatment plant.  The oldest parts of the facility date to 1954.

“These are not part of the expenditures on the wish list but are essential expenses,” said Assaly.

Grants, long-term debt, and a contribution from Champlain Township will pay for the upgrades.  The Hawkesbury water treatment plant also supplies water to Vankleek Hill.

Assaly highlighted the replacement of the retaining wall along Mill Creek next to McGill Street near the intersection with Main street as another major capital project for 2021.

“More than $1.5 million will be spent on this project and $850,000 of which is by way of a grant,” she said.

A new pumper truck for the fire department has been ordered at a cost of $499,000.  Assaly said that the funds for the new truck have been in reserve since 2020.

The mayor said that the town is still planning to replace the ice refrigeration system at the Robert Hartley Sports Complex at a cost of approximately $2 million.

We are presently searching for a grant to offset the total cost of this expenditure. If we are unsuccessful at finding a grant, then it will be financed by a long-term debt,” Assaly explained.

More than $500,000 is in the 2021 capital budget for street paving for its Street Paving Program which includes upgrading the CN railway crossing on Spence Avenue. An amount of $100,000 has also been set aside for the sidewalk and curb replacement program.

Also in 2021, the Town of Hawkesbury is embarking on implementing a paperless platform called Stoneshare which will allow citizens to access documents directly and digitally.  The $165,000 cost to implement the system is being paid for thanks to the Ontario government’s Modernization Fund, meaning the digitization process will not create extra costs for the municipality.