By a one-vote margin, Kenora city council has approved its municipal operating budget.

At a meeting last week, council voted four-three in favour of passing their municipal spending plan.

Mayor Andrew Poirier, who cast one of the dissenting votes, made a point of asking for a recorded vote and spoke about why he didn’t vote for the operating budget. 

“I want to recognize the work that staff have done,” he said. “I’ll be quite honest with you, this will be my 13th budget. It’s the first time I’m going to vote against any portion of the budget.”

Poirier was joined by Coun. Barbara Manson and Coun. Lisa Moncrief in voting against the operating budget.

“I just cannot in good conscience prove a budget that’s [5.36 per cent], the rate it will end up being.,” he said. “And unfortunately, it’s not something I want to do because it has its own set of consequences to vote against the operating budget for 2023.”

Poirier had mentioned earlier he wanted to find some cost savings by delaying the implementation of a salary grid for non-union management and professional staff which aligns salaries to averages across the province.

Before the vote for to accept the resolution to implement the new salary grid, Manson brought forward an amendment proposing to change the start date to July 1, instead of retroactively back to Jan. 1 of this year. The amendment was defeated in a close vote, four to three, with Manson, Moncrief and Poirier voting for it.

Manson said she was disappointed with the vote.

“I think we could have shaved off a little bit more that our taxpayers could have swallowed a little bit easier,” she said.

Coun. Kelsie Van Belleghem said “I do not make this decision lightly, but I’m also very conscious of the fact that our municipality is the same implications that everyone is feeling in this economy.”

She added the reminder the budget is passed by council and not by city staff.

“So if anyone has questions concerns or comments about the process of this budget, I would ask that they direct them to this council table,” she said. “It is our responsibility and these seats to make these decisions and so we are the ones who are responsible for answering any questions around this.”

All four parts of the 2023 budget are now passed in Kenora.

The water & wastewater utility budget and solid waste utility budget both passed unanimously at Wednesday’s meeting as well.

And the five-year capital budget was passed with a 5-2 vote during council meeting on Feb. 15.

By Eric Shih, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 28, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Thunder Bay Source   Thunder Bay, Ontario
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