The first draft of the Espanola municipal budget showed an increase of just over six percent but that has been substantially reduced.

Espanola CAO Cynthia Townsend originally presented the 2020 proposed budget to the council on January 22nd, which proposed a tax increase of 6.14%.

Council asked for the departments to reduce the levy, which they did, coming in with a proposed increase of 2.29%, explains Townsend.

The average increase to a homeowner with an assessment of $100,000 will be about $45.74.

She says the budget is set to be passed April 14th, but with COVID-19, there are no meetings being held.

However, Townsend adds council has put together a protocol to take care of important matters and still meet physical distancing requirements.

She adds the budget will see a decrease in the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund grants, and increases in health unit funding, bylaw enforcement, fire and complex budgets, as well as Care Van funding.