After the Capital Budget session held on Tuesday (Jan. 22), Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau says that, there is no change from the 2018 capital budget expenditures.
“Basically we’ve ended up where we started,” said Charbonneau, “but there are still some variables that could affect this budget. Right now it is a hold-the-line budget.”
After deliberations of the $11.512 million draft Capital budget, the blended tax rate with the draft Operations Budget remains at three per cent although that could change once the Bruce County and Bluewater School Board budgets are finalized which can impact the blended rate.
Among the large Capital projects is the proposed outdoor sports complex located at the south end of Port Elgin at what was the Lamont gravel pit for several outdoor ball diamonds. Deputy Mayor Don Matheson said that he would like the diamonds to be up to ‘tournament standards’. “It will take at least three years before they would be ready but I would like to see a return to tournament play for adults and minor ball.” The project to date is expected to cost some $1.6Million from a combination of sources other than taxes. In the budget, $165,000 was approved for a consultant and landscape architecture drawings. Matheson and Vice-Deputy Mayor Mike Myatt both said they would like the ‘terms of reference’ to come to Council however, before an RFP is issued by the Community Services Department.
Among other projects being proposed within Community Services is the replacement of playground equipment. Director of Community Services, Jayne Jagelewski, explained that equipment must be replaced at the end of 10 years. Vice Deputy Mayor Mike Myatt questioned however, why a consultant was being recommended to determine equipment needs when staff had the ability to do it. Councilor Kristan Shrider also pointed out that monthly certified inspections are made and all equipment has to be CSA approved. Following a vote of five to three, the $20,000 consultant fee was removed .
Director Jagelewski, also suggested that a ‘flagship’ accessible park, similar to Jubilee Park in Southampton, be built in Port Elgin. Councilor Cheryl Grace who represents Southampton Ward pointed out that Jubilee Park was paid for by Southampton Rotary Club fundraising. “There may be accessible grants available though,” she added.
According to CAO, David Smith, there is a capacity for debt financing of large projects such as the outdoor sports complex, a pool, the new Police Station and work on the Southampton Town Hall. Debt is one of the several capital financing tools available to municipalities and, when used responsibly can be a powerful long-term financing tool, according to the draft budget outline. “Credit agencies recommend that a municipality be below 10 per cent in net debit finance service charges and we are at 5.4 percent.”
He also added that design and consultation on a project could be done in one year with the actual work being done the next year. “I am confident that the project list is achievable and Work in Progress reports (WIPs) will be brought to council on a regular basis.”
Infrastructure of roads and bridges are also major components of the budget with re-surfacing work beginning on several roads this year and maintenance projects for the water treatment plant and Port Elgin water tower.
At the end of the day, Mayor Charbonneau reminded Council that with endorsement of the projects, staff will begin the work. “It’s important to remember we (Council) have initiated these projects and that we have to continue our support of them throughout.”
Overall it appeared to be a ‘streamlined’ budget that will come to a regular Council meeting at a future date.