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2015 will be challenging year for Municipal budgets

January 13, 2015

Town Council

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After sharpening their pencils and whittling away at the 2015 draft Operating Budget, Saugeen Shores staff brought it back to Council again on Tuesday, January 13, 2015.

The budget preparation began in September, 2014 in an exercise of trying to meet the fiscal challenges for 2015 while maintaining the ongoing level of service.

The total levy increase presented at the outset was $977.372.90 which, after assessment growth, was 7.25% and, when combined with the County increase of 3.8% and anticipated school board increase of 2%, the combined levy increase proposed was 5.11% or $142.05 annual per average residential assessment of $265,000.

Of 96 municipalities of comparable size surveyed, Saugeen Shores actually falls in the middle when it comes to tax per household paid, at $2,325, below the average of $3,000 elsewhere.  "While excellent for the taxpayer," said Treasurer Kate Allan, "it's not good when we are looking for grants from the Province.  We are also third in the Province for household income at $118,000."

Treasurer Kate Allan

From budget deliberations, there are several factors that will make 2015 a challenging budget year:

  • Ontario Municipal Partnership Funding - reduced 20% or $343,000
  • Increased legal feels for Police Service Board, Development Charges (DC) appeal and wind turbine coalition - $80,000
  • SMART (transit) - $32,000
  • Increase in benefits - $50,000
  • Wage increases (partly through collective agreements) - $100,000

A change of a 1% increase in the tax levy will result in $105,000.

In addition, there were proposed increases for a transfer to the fleet reserve of $20,000; an increase to the bridge reserve of $120,000; two summer students at the waterfront for $15,000 and the conversion of a long-time contract position to full-time at the Business Enterprise Centre which will result in increased benefit costs.


 

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Then, there are the many requests by citizens for things such as: more bike racks in the downtowns, snow removal in the Tourist Camps, increased WiFi at the Harbour, adding a sidewalk on Summerhill Rd. in Southampton, add sidewalks in Port Elgin, blue box collection in the downtown cores, winter garbage collection in parks & trails and .... the list goes on.

Each department head brought his or her budget to the table, including 2014 achievements, 2015 goals and challenges.

After a full day of examining each area, Council arrived at a revised 'draft' Operating budget that is now at 6.28 per cent (6.28%) but it is anticipated, in the next 'go around' in February that the number will again change.  The Capital Budget is also yet to be presented for approval.




Mayor Mike Smith


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Tuesday, January 13, 2015