By Nikolai Karpinski 
BELLEVILLE — Property taxes are expected to go up 2.44 per cent in all four wards in Quinte West this year.
It would mark the first time in the city’s history that the percentage tax increase is the same across all wards.
A draft budget was discussed by Quinte West council Monday. Council is expected to vote on it later this month
While the percentage tax increase would be the same among all wards, the actual dollar amount that property-owners pay in taxes will vary a bit depending on which ward they are in. In Trenton ward, the tax hike is $5.35 monthly for a home with the average assessed value of $201,000. This is due to higher costs associated with full-time fire services and streetlights. In Sidney and Murray wards, the increase for a house of the same value will be $4.81 a month, and for Frankford it comes to a $4.86 increase.
Coun. Bob Wannamaker says he wants the budget limited to avoid tax increases due to financial concerns he has heard from the public. “Old Age Security  only went up by 75 cents, and everywhere you turn everything is going up. There’s a lot of retired people here and they’re not getting any extra money,” Wannamaker told QNet News after Monday’s meeting.
On the other hand, not increasing taxes would mean less money for the city’s budget. “We live in an inflationary world and we’ve got to come up somewhere between acceptable and zero” tax increases, said Coun. Allan Dewitt.
One important item in the budget is the large number of special events taking place in the area, such as the International Air Show  and the Cinema on the Trent festival . The film festival is asking for $100,000 from the city. Mayor Jim Harrison told QNet News he doesn’t expect council to pass that item. “I’ll be surprised if council supports that,” Harrison said, “but that’s council’s decision, not mine. I don’t see it as being clear right yet.”
An expenditure of $20,000 to hire two special events co-ordinators for the second half of the year was proposed. There was also an item in the budget to spend $80,000 to allow the arenas in Quinte West to stay open year-round and to cover the cost of arena employees’ vacation time during the busier times of the year.
Loss in revenue to the marina  last year was another topic brought up in the budget discussion. The marina is expected to break even this year.
One significant decrease in the budget over last year comes from reduced OPP costs. Around $820,000 in city expenses were reduced because of the province’s new police cost model .
Council has scheduled a second budget meeting to be held on March 21.