DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: After approving the municipal budget for the coming year on Monday, Feb. 11, Uxbridge councillors turned their attention to the Regional budget, which has left some feeling that North Durham is helping to subsidize areas of South Durham.
Uxbridge councillors formally approved the municipal budget for 2013 on Monday, with a 3.77 per cent total increase to the township portion of the tax bill. The amount includes an extra one per cent to fund the construction of a new fire hall for Uxbridge Township. This was the third, and final, year of the additional levy to fund the new facility.
Finance Committee Chair Pat Molloy took time after the budget's approval to thank township staff for their prudent spending, which has amounted to a five per cent increase in the township's operating budget over the past five years, while still providing key services to township residents.
"It's important to note with a tax increase, that residents have wants and needs, and want to pay the lowest taxes possible," said Councillor Molloy. "And we've been able to add some excellent parks and rec facilities, such as the splash pad and skate park as well as funding for the new fire hall."
Council's attention then turned to the Durham Regional Budget, which according to Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor, is expected to come in with an increase of 2.74 per cent, although she noted that there are still some outstanding issues with the police budget, which accounts for approximately half of the regional budget. The Mayor then levied criticism for the bloated police budget.
"The police service is out of control, especially when you look at some of the salaries coming down through arbitration," commented Mayor O'Connor.
The Mayor also had harsh words for Durham Region Transit, which she voted against when the measure was initially adopted in 2006.
"It's disgusting what we're paying for transit. We're paying the same up here for three days of bus service as they are paying in the south for a bus every 10 minutes. If you are a rural resident, you get nothing," said Mayor O'Connor.
The Mayor's comments led Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy, a Zephyr resident jokingly asked what a bus looks like.
"We've never seen a bus in the north," added Councillor Molloy.
However, Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast, a strong supporter of the transit system, defended the service it provides to some township residents.
"We have transit everyday down to Durham College. Those students are now able to stay at home, and if they don't have a car, they don't have to pay the $8,000 a year to stay at the college," explained Councillor Northeast.
However, Councillor Northeast's comments appeared to do little to sway the Mayor's opinions on the transit system.
"If you look at what we're paying, we could afford to buy every one of those students a car," commented Mayor O'Connor. "We're greatly overpaying for the service we receive. Transit is the one that'll bring us down in the future because of the extreme cost, approximately $1.5 million per bus."
The Mayor closed the discussion by lauding the township for the prudent detail to taxpayer monies.
"Uxbridge has done exceedingly well considering the lack of funds coming from the province, which will only get worse with time," said Mayor O'Connor.
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