A draft 2020 operating and capital budget for Aylmer, presented to town councillors on Monday, Jan. 18, calls for a 2.8% increase in the municipality’s property tax levy.
This would increase the tax bill by about $49 for the average home in Aylmer. This estimate was calculated using the assessed value of the average single detached residential property ($212,728) and the planned 4.4% increase in the municipality’s operating budget levy.
“This estimate is provided at this early stage just for indicative purposes for council,” noted Corporate Services Director Kale Brown at a Jan. 18 virtual meeting.
The number does not include any impacts of County of Elgin tax rates or education levies. It also assumes that no substantial projects need to be funded directly from the levy, and that they would all be funded through existing reserves.
Final tax rates and billing impacts will be brought to council at a future meeting.
On Jan. 18, the third presentation in the budget process was made to council, which detailed five-year project plans from each department, including operations, water/sewer, corporate services and reserve transfers.
The town plans to undergo about six operational projects in 2021, including the Clarence Street reconstruction (in related story on page 10), a surface treatment program, and vehicle replacement.
Aylmer Mayor Mary French asked about the surface treatment program, expected to cost about $120,000.
Operations Director Rob Johnson described it as a maintenance program for the roadways, such as a microsurfacing treatment or surface treatment. “This is one that probably should go every year to make sure we maintain our road system,” he said.
Councillor Pete Barbour pointed to a line items listed as “vehicle”, costing about $50,000. “What kind of vehicle are we talking about?”
Mr. Johnson said this would be a pickup truck.
A major water/sewer project is the filter sand replacement listed for $125,000. It was scheduled for 2020 but unable to be completed.
“That’s the actual sand itself in the sand filters as part of our filtration system of our lagoons,” explained Mr. Brown.
Another major water/sewer project is the water tower shell refurbishment and SCADA update, listed for $350,000. Council had no questions about the water/sewer projects.
Several corporate services projects are carried forward from 2020. Repainting the clock tower roof and small repairs to the face of the clock will cost $55,000.
“I didn’t actually think at the time it would be that expensive to repaint or reshingle the roof of the clock tower. We were mistaken. That was exceptionally more expensive than anticipated,” said Mr. Brown.
There is $10,000 allocated to addresses a long-time police station roof leak. Mr. Brown said, “It’s difficult with that roof design to identify where that problem is occurring.”
Cr. Barbour suggested constructing a roof overtop of the existing police roof. Mr. Brown said this was the intent last year – to create a peak in the middle and a new path for the water to run.
Cr. Oslach asked about the composition of the clock tower roof. Mr. Brown said the current clock tower roof is sheet metal, painted black. Discolouration comes from the paint coming off.
One option is sand blasting or removing the paint, and putting a fresh coat of paint on the steel. The second option is replacing the sheet steel with a steel-slate looking roof.
The budget presentation also included the annual planned transfers to reserves. This included money set aside for the 2022 election ($3,524), East Elgin Community Complex ($50,000), accessibility for buildings ($10,000), park trails expansion ($20,000), asset management plan ($650,000), computer replacement ($15,000), contribution for a future police cruiser ($25,000), and replenishment of development charges reserve ($61,000).
Mayor French asked how often the police department gets a new vehicle. Mr. Brown said it was scheduled that they had a “capital project” in their project list, which is every second year at $40,000 allocated.
Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express