Budget storm clouds on the horizon for TBM

·3 min read

There may be some budget storm clouds on the horizon for the Town of The Blue Mountains.

At its committee of the whole meeting on Aug. 30, council received the June/July financial update from town staff. The report contained a general update about town finances through the end of July and reported on significant variances in departments tracking plus or minus 10 per cent of the budget.

Deputy Treasurer Sam Dinsmore presented the report and advised council that finance staff would be bringing a year-end analysis report forward in September to advise council of the town’s overall financial position heading towards the end of the year.

Areas of concerns highlighted in the report included: parking revenues, revenues from development charges, revenues from development engineering applications, vehicle expenses and legal expenses.

Coun. Rob Sampson immediately requested that the September report include potential solutions for any budget areas that might be forecasting a year-end deficit.

“I’m getting the sense as I read through this report that the September report will speak to a bit of a deficit,” said Sampson. “I would like recommendations, if possible, for things to do to mitigate the deficit. I'm trying to get the uneasy feeling in my stomach out.”

Sampson noted that the budget report showed that the development charges collected by the town in 2022 may be significantly lower than expected. He noted that was an indication of a changing economy.

“The market has softened quite significantly and it’s having a negative impact on builders and their enthusiasm to get shovels in the ground,” said Sampson.

Coun. Paula Hope thanked staff for the up-to-date information.

“Thank you for your frankness on the projection. We get the straight goods from you,” she said, and requested that the town’s legal expenses be broken down by individual case file. Hope specifically asked to see the expenses for the appeal of the Abbotts subdivision.

Dinsmore said staff would get those expenses separated out in the next report.

Mayor Alar Soever also asked for more information about a number of capital projects underway and coming up and he specifically asked to see a graph of capital spending vs. asset amortization over the past eight years.

In a 5-0 vote (Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon and Coun. Jim Uram were absent), council passed a resolution accepting the report and asking for a number of items to be included in the September report including: recommendations to mitigate a potential deficit, legal costs being broken down individually, sources of funding for two sewage works projects that will be coming up and the capital spending/amortization comparison.

In an interview afterwards, Mayor Alar Soever (who is not running for reelection) said the next budget will be a tough one.

"Obviously next year's budget will be difficult with inflation and where interest rates are," he said, noting that he asked for the capital spending/amortization report to highlight the progress that has been made on that front in recent years. "I want to see how we're doing on that and highlight it for the new council and public."

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca