If you can budget with a good laugh, then you must be doing something right.
In the second round of draft budget deliberations at a special committee of the whole meeting recently, Tiny council sat through an overview of the previous discussion, which covered operations before diving into the capital proposals, adjustments and carryovers from 2021 to 2022.
The biggest turning point was the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) grant. Tiny staff did not include the anticipated OCIF amount of roughly $320,000 for the first draft budget. A recent announcement from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) in early November stated that OCIF would be doubled as part of its redesign.
OCIF grants are specific to improving infrastructure; using replacement values based on municipal asset management plan assessments to calculate their need.
As a result, not only was $640,578 available to Tiny for the 2022 budget by the second round, but finance director/treasurer Haley Leblond added even more good news to the discussion.
“Once we got the final confirmation from the province, we actually received quite a bit higher,” said Leblond.
An additional $142,516 was granted to the municipality, which staff noted within the funding gap section of the draft budget discussion.
Infrastructure projects were prioritized through five levels for the capital budget, and some that had been removed or reduced were added back in by staff for the second draft.
Many of these involved repaving Tiny roads, including Ebenezer Sideroad, part of Silver Birch Drive, 14th Concession along with reconstructing and paving part of Tiny Beaches Road North. Equipment was also included in the capital budget.
Council heard from community deputations earlier in the day as well as various requests for support, and made operations adjustments which brought them into the negative.
“So we are either editing further on the operating side, adjusting our tax rate, or adjusting capital in order to make up that (operations) shortage,” inquired Mayor George Cornell of the potential municipal tax rate increase.
Leblond agreed, but pointed out the bottom line showed OCIF adjustments of a far lesser impact. Cornell noted aloud that the $142,516 hadn’t yet been allocated.
“We’re in a good place right now,” said Leblond with a laugh. Once the amount was added as a placeholder, a surplus of $103,739 appeared on the spreadsheet.
Council agreed to have staff look at projects, which would best utilize the surplus for the next draft budget meeting.
Carryover projects were also included in the discussion, which staff felt compelled to address.
“To be very clear and transparent,” stated Leblond, “there’s a bunch of projects that staff have noted now will be carried forward from 2021 into 2022, but because these had already been approved in the 2021 budget there’s no impact, so the surplus will be applied to those specific projects.”
Public works director Tim Leitch added further clarity.
“I just wanted to be clear because there’s questions that come year after year on carryover projects. It’s not that these projects weren’t done; some of them are invoicing for projects that aren’t done.
“Some of them are pure carryover or they did not happen, but there are some in there that are due to billing and late billing and work that occurred in late 2021; it’s just when we get invoiced for them,” Leitch confirmed.
Cornell brought up a question regarding gross spending.
“If I recall at the beginning of our capital review, it looks like a 30 per cent increase on our gross spend this year versus last year. The obvious question is capacity to get the job done.”
“We probably did about 75% ourselves and 25% outsourcing,” replied Leitch, noting it was an excellent question. “This year we’re flopping that around. We’re going to be outsourcing the vast majority of our road construction projects.”
He added that the cost would amount to the same, which would free up staff time greatly.
Cornell was pleased with the response.
“Directionally, it’s good news. From infrastructure, upgrade, placement, whatever in terms of our challenges where we’re at,” he said.
The draft 2022 budget overview with additional information can be found on the agenda through the township website.
Archives of council meetings are available to view on Tiny Township’s YouTube channel.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca