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Budget Talks Continue in Woodstock

The Woodstock Public Library was one of three boards who presented a budget proposal to Woodstock City council. Budget deliberations were a part of last night's meeting.

WOODSTOCK - Following two revenue fund budget meetings, Woodstock City council saw three board presentations requesting budget proposals.

Budget deliberations were a part of last night's meeting.

Mayor Trevor Birtch says one of them included the Woodstock Police Services Board.

"A lot of the discussions tonight revolved around the excellent work that's done at both the Woodstock Library and Woodstock Art Gallery. And of course with our police service that we need to continue to expand the service as we see certain areas in the city, with the growth that's occurring and the changes and the type of calls, we need to continue to enhance the service in order to keep all of the citizens of the Friendly City safe."

The Woodstock Police Service Board's proposal was for $16,253,789, while the Woodstock Art Gallery and Woodstock Library's proposals were for approximately $785,000 and $2,579,988.50 respectively.

Mayor Birtch says it's been a very responsible budget so far.

"Of course all of these numbers are in draft and preliminary and council will continue their deliberations at the following two meetings."

During his presentation Police Chief Daryl Longworth says the Woodstock Police is asking for five additional officers, including two foot patrol officers for downtown. They're also asking for contract negotiations and investments in technology such as NG911 and Digital Evidence Management. 

Their projected net police budget is an 8.9% increase from 2019.

Director and Curator Mary Reid represented the WAG and their budget proposal this year saw an increase of 7.3% from last year's budget, which was $730,000. The funds will be put towards staffing costs and a full-time Facilities Maintenance position. 

They also requested an inclusion officer for kids with special needs, but the funding for that position has already been received.

And CEO David Harvey was a representative for the Woodstock Public Library. The budget proposal in his presentation saw an 4.9% increase from their 2019 budget, which was $2,459,400.00. The funds for this year would go towards library operations, staffing and collections. 

They also requested funding for a full-time outreach Librarian position, costing an additional $48,637.50. The position would begin in July 2020 and it is for six months. 

You can view all three board presentations in council's report here.

The preliminary draft budget tax rate change has the potential to fluctuate. Mayor Birtch explains what this could mean for residents.

"Right now with the projected tax rate change, if everything stays the same within the budget and there's no enhancement to services or changes we would actually see a decrease, a -0.38% tax rate change. If council decides to go with all of the additions to the budget and the improvements to the service that staff is recommending and the public has been asking for, we could see an increase that is as high as about 1.12% on the tax rate change."

Mayor Birtch adds at this point in time they have the budget from Oxford County approved and the capital budget approved.

He says council will continue discussions this month before approving the 2020 budget on April 2nd.

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