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Thursday, April 18, 2013
Council reviews Street Smarts downtown program for 2013 Staff Reporter
The fate of the Street Smarts Program was discussed at council, who debated whether to give the program an application deadline, a monetary limit and a plan to keep the program successful after 2013. With councillors speaking from all points of view, all felt it was important to keep the program running; however, some provided different ideas about how it should be
run. The program provides financial assistance to downtown commercial property owners looking to make improvements to their storefronts. A motion was passed to provide $15,000 to the Street Smarts Program, which would pay for qualifying projects already applied for. The motion also stated council would review further applications on a caseby-case basis and give staff until Aug. 1 to review the program and propose options for to keep it viable
in the future. “The recommendation was that we would move enough (money) to cover this year until we get an overall plan from the municipality on how this program will continue. We felt that $15,000 would cover the applications that have been made this year and if something happens that there are more applications then they can be brought to council for approval then,” said Mark Day, director of finance for Greater Napanee.
Council also received a letter from the Downtown BIA stating the importance of the Street Smarts program to the municipality and to the downtown core. “I think the staff would agree that we definitely need to keep this program. There was a point in time where this program was to be self-sustaining to make sure it went on. The rules were changed and I think everyone realized when we changed the rules that we were going to run into a problem where the initial $80,000 wasn’t going to last a long time,” said Chief Administrative Officer Ray Callery. “From a staff perspective, part of the issue we’re facing is an extremely tight fiscal year and the way we allocate this surplus will affect what we have available for taxing, the rest of the budget, and we’re trying to limit an increased taxation as much as we can. We wanted to ensure that the applications as presented under the current rules could be accommodated, and they can be. There is money in the Napanee reserve that could be used if more applications come forward.” Some councillors had mixed feelings as to whether more grants should be hand-
ed out and said coming up with a dollar amount per year for the program was important. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we have to keep this program going, but with the same token, I don’t want to feeling to be out there that the sky is the limit and that seems to be what we might be suggesting here,” said Deputy Mayor Roger Cole. “We should allocate that $15,000 and have those letters come in and we will consider them. I don’t want to put out the feeling that there’s a limitless payout here to draw from. That’s my hesitation on why we should put some sort of limit on it. We’re putting a time frame on it but we’re not putting any sort of dollar sign on it,” he continued. Councillor Marg Isbester said she knows of more requests coming in soon that council should consider and though she recognized the program does need to be looked at again, she also said the continuation of the grant program is vital for the downtown core. “I think there is a need for Street Smarts. I know we need to sit down as a council and go over the program. I know there are two more applications coming in. It is
part of our infrastructure and I would like some sort of commitment from council that they would seriously consider any applications that come in,” said Isbester. Councilor Shane Grant said each building should have a limit of $5,000, rather than $5,000 for each side of the building facing a street. “We have one application in now for $10,000 for one building and I’m wondering if we should discuss limiting that to $5,000 per building rather than per side, which would help limit the cost,” he said, stating he wants the program to continue in the future. Mayor Gordon Schermerhorn said though the program is beneficial to the municipality, he feels there should be a financial limit in the future. “I think in some point in time throughout the year we have to say, ‘We can only accept so many.’ I think this is a starting point,” he said in reference to the motion. “I think this year, until we do get the finances together, let’s do the $15,000 and if we have two or three applications more we will look at them at that time.” The program will be reviewed in August and council will decide how the program will be funded and run in future years.
Urban-rural tax areas untouched BY ASHLEY FOLEY Staff Reporter
BY ASHLEY FOLEY
After two deputations regarding urban and rural tax policy rates, Greater Napanee council discovered the municipality could lose more than $11,000 if those not receiving urban services no longer paid at the urban rate. A member of the community, Harry Keller, brought his concerns to council stating he pays urban taxes on Vanluven Road but does not receive urban services, such as water and sewer. Staff and council explained to Keller the current tax policy is not based on water and sewer services, which are paid by user rates. Vanluven Road falls within an urban area, though is on the rural-urban line. Therefore, council requested staff prepare a report detailing how many other people are paying urban taxes, while receiving rural services. The report was provided during last Thursday’s budget meeting and stated there are 43 properties in Keller’s situation. This would mean a difference of $11,232.07 fewer
in taxes paid to the municipality if all those on paying at the urban tax rate but not receiving services were to change to rural policies. Councillor Marg Isbester felt council should look into the issue further, especially after seeing the report last week. “I think it has to be reviewed, especially when you see the difference in the taxation. There are thousands of dollars difference,” said Isbester. “The financial impact is that there are 43 properties in that area paying on the urban rate but are still on rural services,” explained Mark Day, director of finances for the Town of Greater Napanee. “My recommendation is that we do look at future tax policy but at a future date and the whole policy as a whole,” he continued, stating looking at the policy based on Keller’s perspective would not be fair to the other 42 residents. Councillor Michael Schenk moved that the request be tabled and to form future tax policy considerations when council resolves for such a review to take place, which was seconded by Deputy Mayor Roger Cole and carried unanimously by council.
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