West Nipissing council is supporting a resolution from the Township of Papineau-Cameron asking the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board to freeze any budget increase for 2020.

Papineau-Cameron council says rather than seeing the Nipissing DSSAB raise the levy by 4.52 percent, which gives the board an additional $886,821, it wants it to remain at the 2019 level.

By the slimmest of margins, West Nipissing council endorsed the resolution 5-4.

The DSSAB has approved the increase but municipalities weighing in on the issue want the board to reconsider that vote.

Because the 4.52 percent is an average, the increase is likely to be more for West Nipissing because it’s a growing community.

Mayor Joanne Savage says the levy increase could be five or six percent for West Nipissing and she’s worried what this means for local residents.

“When we deal with our own budget we may have to make serious decisions of the services we provide,” she said.

“We may have to cut back (services) on roads or recreation or other services our residents have always enjoyed.”

Councillor Dan Roveda is council’s representative on the DSSAB and he told his colleagues the board had no choice in increasing the levy an average of 4.52 percent.

Roveda said DSSAB started its budget process at 7.5 percent before reducing it by three percentage points.

Roveda emphasized that the increase simply preserves existing services.

He says many of the departments DSSAB oversees have legislative mandates, like Ontario Works, Child Services and Housing meaning there’s virtually no wiggle room when it comes to controlling costs.

He says the only wiggle room DSSAB has involves about $400,000.

Roveda also adds mandated by the province to the board is ambulance services and he says costs in this sector are out of control right across Ontario.

Roveda also says the DSSAB has a very lean administrative body.

Councillor Lise Senecal and other councillors admit that the board is not likely to reconsider the resolution where it’s asked not to increase the levy.

But she says the point of objecting to the increase is so the province hears that municipalities are not happy with the rise.

“We know it won’t change DSSAB’s mind this year, but we have to send a message,” Senecal said.