Budget talks begin for Saugeen Shores
by Sandy Lindsay

December 9, 2015

Town Council

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 Budget talks for 2016 have begun throughout municipalities and Saugeen Shores began on Tuesday, December 8th to look at the numbers.

It was only the first look at the budget but the numbers did not look good, particularly, given the Province's continuing cut-backs. 

An additional $206,000 or two per cent (2%) in funding was cut again this year over the cut-backs made last year, which was money committed to the Operations budget in order to maintain the current level of municipal services.

Saugeen Shores is the fastest growing community in Bruce and Grey and, while it is perceived as a good thing, it also reflects on the funding received by Province.  The higher the community is 'perceived' to be on the financial economic ladder. the less provincial funding it receives.

It will cost approximately $30million to maintain the town of Saugeen Shores which includes a proposed tax levy operating budget of $12million, water and sewer not included.

While the municipal levy is starting out at 12.4 per cent for 2016, that does not include the County and Education tax levy, which each reduces the overall tax to a 'blended rate'.

With the County levy at 3.66 per cent, the tax increase for instance on a property valued at $282,000, would amount to just over $160 per year, an increase of 6.89 per cent.

"I would like to see a general direction from Council on a levy number so that staff has something to work with and can come back with recommendations," said Mayor Mike Smith. 

Councilor Dave Myette:  4.8 - 5.2%

Councilor Cheryl Grace: I could live with a slightly higher increase since we are consistently being turned down for grants ... 5%

Councilor Neil Menage:  Historically, it has been at 3% and I would like to see the Waterfront plan a separate entity ... 5 - 6%

Vice-Deputy Mayor Diane Huber:  We are about to enter a period of growth here and it would be a good plan to begin ramping up for that ... 5 - 6%

Councilor Mike Myatt:  I am waiting for the Organizational Review and putting reserves into areas to move our community forward is good.  We have to be in a competitive position with other municipalities to attract people here ... 5 - 6%

Councilor Don Matheson:  3 - 4% ... not everyone is at the high end of earned income ... no more than 4%.

Councilor John Rich:  5%

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Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau:  A combined rate of 4%

Mayor Mike Smith: I agree with the Deputy Mayor.  Somewhere between 3.5 to 6%, we are going to have to look for projects that can be pared down and Council will then see how we can get to that number.

Staff will now sharpen their pencils to see where departmental cuts can be made while still maintaining services for the community.

The new budget will be brought forward again in January, but no matter how the pie is prepared, it will have to undergo cuts and people will have to be prepared to pay more for smaller slices.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2015