As the new Council begins their work on the 2019 municipal budget, prioritizing a focus on constraining costs while finding the means to invest responsibly within the community, was the theme of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce budget presentation, produced in consultation with its membership.

These objectives were outlined during a Council presentation made by Chamber President Nancy Mageau and First Vice-President Val Venneri on Feb. 5 as a way of advocating for the needs of the business community during the 2019 municipal budget process.

Mageau explained that the rising costs faced by local businesses makes it imperative for Council to pursue a more judicious use of taxpayer dollars.

“Every budget presents opportunities to delay or defer projects whose timing may be less optimal for the current financial climate. Identifying such projects within these municipal budget discussions — alongside inter-departmental synergies and attrition — could assist Council in achieving these specific goals,” said Mageau.

Striving for greater cost reductions within the city may also provide an opportunity to alleviate some of the fiscal pressures seen on other investment projects throughout the year, said Mageau. Appropriate and responsible investment in a community is crucial for growth, and it is with this approach that the Chamber continues to advocate for continued spending on economic diversification, business attraction, and other measures that contribute to the development and expansion of our tax base.

With the Municipal Accommodation Tax being a focus point among its members in the hospitality industry, the Chamber encouraged the city to consider capping the tax levy at 4 percent. Moreover, it was suggested that businesses having to pay into the tax be able to participate in the oversight and distribution of the tourism-focused portion of revenues.

“Tourism continues to be an important driver of economic activity in Timmins and our recommended changes to the Municipal Accommodation Tax will ensure that our hospitality industry remains competitive for our region,” added Mageau.

Additionally, investment in key municipal infrastructure — roads in particular — is also crucial. Given the considerable constraints facing Timmins and all municipalities on this file, the Chamber continues to support long-term planning for core infrastructure, and the development of corresponding financial strategies to ensure that deferred work does not grow to unmanageable levels, said Mageau.

“We certainly sympathize with the municipality’s struggle to manage the burden of infrastructure spending, given that the province continues to shift that burden regardless of the capacity to bear it. It is for that reason that we have aggressively and successfully advocated for greater funding solutions within our own provincial network.”

Concluding remarks highlighted the Chamber’s #finditINtimmins initiative which not only encourages consumers to find goods and services within the community, but also serves to emphasize the importance of voting with your dollar.

“By supporting businesses within our community, they in turn can support a variety of charitable causes, community programs and events. Whether you are a business, a consumer or an organization that has received support from the business community, I encourage everyone to participate in this campaign by actively using the hashtag Find it in Timmins,” concluded Mageau.

Every year, the Chamber’s presentation to council is assembled through an extensive process of consultation, with member input being provided through a wide variety of venues. This includes surveys, roundtable discussions, and the Chamber’s Municipal Affairs Committee. The presentation represents the majority view as expressed by members throughout that consultation process.

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