After trimming more than $300,000 from the operating budget in a session that stretched for more than seven hours Thursday (Jan. 24), members of council will take a second crack at the 2019 budget on Feb. 1.
It was clear from the outset that some substantial changes were forthcoming, as nearly every member of council stated that they’re looking to hold the line on any potential tax increase, which currently sits around 0.5 percent.
Ward 3 Councillor Walter Schummer, who also chairs the finance committee, kicked things off by noting that taxes were the top issue for voters during the election campaign.
“It’s not just the amount they’re paying but the value they see for it,” Coun. Schummer noted.
He encouraged his colleagues to address the “affordability” of Brock for residents and business owners by setting benchmarks based on past spending.
“My hope this term is that we can do a little bit more,” he said.
Practically all of his colleagues agreed.
“We heard it loud and clear at residents’ doors,” said Ward 1 Councillor Mike Jubb.
He noted that the Township is in a “period of prosperity” given municipal reserve levels and after recent growth, which increased the tax base, spurred revenue from development charges.
“Times are very good in Brock Township. It’s time to give our residents a little break,” Coun. Jubb said.
“Brock Township is in a very comfortable position right now,” added Ward 4 Councillor Cria Pettingill.
While the majority of councillors supported that view, Regional Councillor Ted Smith cautioned his colleagues about relying too heavily on reserves to offset a tax increase.
“We do have large reserves…they were put there for a good reason,” he said.
While passing a budget with no increase would be “really easy to do,” Coun. Smith it would come at the expense of reserves and/or service levels.
“We need good long-term planning…not quick fixes,” he said.
While she didn’t disagree, Ward 2 Councillor Claire Doble noted that council had to balance the needs of current taxpayers along with those long-term obligations.
“We need to think about today, tomorrow and the future.”
Heading into the afternoon, Mayor Debbie Bath-Hadden said she planned on bringing forward a motion to reduce the Township’s operating budget across the board by one percent.
“I’m not convinced that the operating budget side of the budget is as tight as it could be,” she said.
Those plans were scrapped as local politicians opted instead to move through the operating budget line by line.
While more revisions will surely be made during the second session next week, the draft budget includes $5 million worth of spending on capital projects.
Highlights of the capital budget include:
– $1.2 million for the reconstruction of Sideroad 18;
– $740,000 for new works department equipment, including a backhoe and grader;
– $552,000 for road resurfacing;
– $550,000 for the double surface treatment of roads;
– $441,000 for gravel resurfacing;
– $250,000 for the Rick MacLeish Community Centre in Cannington;
– $162,500 for sidewalk replacement;
– $130,000 for the replacement of a bridge on Concession 5;
– $111,000 for the Beaverton-Thorah Community Centre;
– $80,000 for streetlights;
– $70,000 for the Beaverton Town Hall;
– $50,000 for a new generator at the municipal office in Cannington;
– $45,000 for the Manilla Community Hall;
– $26,000 for the Sunderland Town Hall;
– $31,500 for parking lot resurfacing;
– $30,000 for bleachers at the Sunderland fairgrounds;
– $30,000 for new LED lighting at the municipal office in Cannington; and,
– $27,000 for the Wilfrid Community Hall;
For more information on the 2019 budget, click HERE.