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Total tax levy for 2015 to come forward at next Council meeting

March 11, 2015
Town Council

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Saugeen Shores 2015 Capital budget came forward at Monday night's Council meeting with a recommended tax levy increase of 3.86 %.

The revised Capital budget has been reduced by $2,581,505 from 2014 budgeted capital spending. The net burden to be applied as part of the 2015 tax levy is $1,211,621 which is an increase of almost $77,000 over 2014 or 0.73% to capital.

A large amount of capital projects are expected to be completed through a combination of tax dollars, donations, Federal Gas Tax funding, user fees, development charges and reserve transfers.  The total capital budget is estimated to be $5.6M.

Among major 2015 Capital projects are:

  • Implementation of the IT master plan including a disaster recovery strategy and the creation of a cold site as well as improved connectivity with remote locations.

  • Replacement of SCBA Pack and Mask equipment

  • Renovation to improve storage and space efficiencies at the Police Station

  • Purchase of a Quint unit at the Fire Hall as well as other vehicle and equipment replacements. 

  • Reconstruction of Waterloo Street

  • Continuing work on Adelaide Street

  • Stafford Street and Catherine

  • Doll Side road asphalt resurfacing

  • Drainage improvements along Highway 21.

  •  Accessibility improvements at High Street and Victoria intersection in Southampton.

There are also projects that have been carried over from 2014 for completion this year.  Also, because there are still outstanding items in the Operating Budget, it was recommended that the Capital and Operation budgets be approved separately in order to move forward.

Councilor Don Matheson raised the issue of the Recreation Master Plan budgeted for 2016.  He said that he would like to see the plan brought forward into 2015.

Town Treasurer, Kate Allan, said that there are funding options - to fund through the tax levy increasing it to over 4%, defer an existing project and apply that funding to the Plan or use reserve funds to avoid impact on the tax levy.

Vice Deputy Diane Huber expressed grave concern over approving a budget that has two components to it.  "We don't have the other piece of the budget and I find it discouraging that we are making a decision in isolation from the other part of the operations budget.  I don't think we have completely captured areas that need capturing such as the project at Adelaide St. and the Highway.  There are also significant challenges with the air quality at the police station and now that seems to have off the list.  I also find it confusing that on February 4th we received information about reserves and I would have expected them to end up where we anticipated but now the reserve numbers are really different than those on February 4th.  There are significant changes to numbers and I would like to know why."

She also said that Council is being asked to "push this through without the other part of the budget and I don't understand the urgency ... I am very very concerned. We are keeping the increase low but less than 1% is for capital and capital is the tangible stuff.  I'm not sure with the balance being skewed so much to operating when it's an increase overall.  I think we are being asked too much before we have all the information."

Councilor Mike Myatt said that the Recreation Master Plan would take some time, particularly, with a new Committee coming on board.  "I would like to see staff move forward with Terms of Reference without any financial commitment today.  There are lots of other comparable studies out there and perhaps in the next few months we can get the Terms of Reference and bring this back to Council in November for discussion."

Matheson said that he wanted to see the funds for the Plan taken out of reserves in the sum of $45,000.

Huber said that the Town has a lot of things that have been started and not followed through on.  "We have a lot of things on the list that are not even close to being realized.  How do we add something else in when we have all these other things we don't seem to be doing anything about. I am hesitant about starting something else when we have downtown 'stuff', the waterfront and the pool is another thing.  I think we are spreading ourselves incredibly thin right now."

 

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Matheson pointed out that if there are government monies in the future, that a plan has to be ready to be able to access the funds.

Mayor Mike Smith said that the Recreation Master Plan and the pool are two completely separate issues.  He also said that given the Provincial government's $12Billion debt, he thought it unlikely there would be any funding programs until 2018 and that there would probably be more downloading where the municipality would become responsible.  "I think we have a lot on our plate this year ... a pool issue, three new committees that will require staff, two downtowns.  You can't do everything right now."Director of Community Services Jayne Jagelewski said that in her view Terms of Reference for the Recreation Master Plan would require public consultation.

According to Matheson, he stressed that many people want a Recreation Master Plan.

Mayor Smith said that it is important to get tenders for projects out early in order to realize savings.  "Contractors get busy in the spring and it costs considerably more the longer capital projects are delayed."

The Municipality levy as it stands today is 3.86% and when taking into account the county and education budgets, the combined increase is at 3.09%

The motion was approved that the capital levy will be combined with the operating levy and presented to Committee of the Whole on March 23rd, 2015 in order to determine the total tax levy for 2015.
 


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Wednesday, March 11, 2015