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Stirling-Rawdon faces provincial budget cuts for another year

By Cam Kennedy [1]

BELLEVILLE — The township of Stirling-Rawdon [2] will have less financial help from the province this year.

It’s the only municipality in Hastings County [3] to face a decrease in financial help from the provincial government.

“I have no trouble with my sister municipalities in Hastings County getting funding,” said Stirling-Rawdon mayor, Rodney Cooney. “But, it sure does suck when I have people paying the same provincial sales taxes as the (surrounding) municipalities – yet they are getting increases and we are getting decreases.”

The decline in funding has occurred every year for the past three or four years, according to Cooney.

The original cutbacks in 2013 were something the township was prepared for. Cuts were made to some departments in the municipality by 20 percent.

With the costs of energy, electricity and fuel increasing, Stirling-Rawdon had to find money from elsewhere.

One of the ways to do this was to increase taxes for residents living in the township. That’s something Cooney is hesitant to do.

“Since 1998 to 2010 or 2011, the average house here – the taxes went up 151 percent,” he said. “You can’t keep doing that.”

When asked about a solution to counter the cuts, Cooney mentioned sharing services with other municipalities in the area.

“We just entered into an agreement with a fire administration with Tweed.” he said. “I believe we have to do that with our water and sewage. Any of our surrounding neighbours, we should be looking at going in with them.”

Cooney has had discussions with other mayors in Hastings County about Stirling-Rawdon’s situation. While they are all sympathetic, there are some people who are doubters.

“You try to tell people that you believe it is unfair, but some people think sometimes that you’re crying wolf.” he said. “However, figures don’t lie and liars can figure.”