Limerick Township council discussed their 2021 budget at their April 26 meeting. Victoria Tisdale, the clerk and treasurer, led council through all the expenses and revenues and then opened the floor to discussion and suggested amendments. As the draft budget stood at meeting’s end, the township needed to raise $1,180,644.83 through taxation, which would necessitate a 0.4 per cent tax increase for 2021.
Tisdale and the council took a look at the expenses and revenues within the draft budget. Under expenses, council expenses, the amount from last year was $55,419 while the proposed amount for this year was $59,200, for administration the 2020 amount was $397,632 while the 2021 proposed amount is $366,350, for fire the 2020 amount was $214,443.16 while the 2021 proposed amount is $161,300, for Crowe Valley Conservation Authority the 2020 amount was $28,397.86 while proposed for 2021 is $29,777.78, for building the 2020 amount was $21,369.14 while the 2021 proposed amount is $23,500, for animal control the 2020 amount was $0 while the 2021 proposed amount is $3,000, for emergency measures the 2020 amount was $5,003.03 while the 2021 proposed amount is $54,000, for roads the 2020 amount was $983,508.53 while the 2021 proposed amount is $1,194,150, for disposal/recycling the 2020 amount was $76,259.72 while the 2021 proposed amount is $162,800, for health services the 2020 amount was $0 while the proposed 2021 amount is $1,500, for planning and development the 2020 amount was $5,204.11 while the 2021 proposed amount is $5,500, for the Limerick community centre the 2020 amount was $23,731.50 while the 2021 proposed amount is $31,400 and for miscellaneous (which includes policing costs, parks upgrades, O.H.A.S., cannabis funding, social programs, ICIP garage/office updates, contingency, 911 costs, special capital/ADDA, federal gas tax, lost assessment decisions, capital upgrades, donations and other expenses) the 2020 amount was $184,432.70 while the proposed amount for 2021 is $331,823.
Under township revenues, taxes were $1,828,071.10 for 2020 while for 2021 they are projected to be $1,826,525, for miscellaneous revenues the 2020 amount was $512,185.38 while the 2021 projected amount is $518,400, for fire the 2020 amount was $96,861.75 while the 2021 projected amount is $45,100, for roads the 2020 amount was $0 while the 2021 projected amount is $90,000, for disposal/recycling the 2020 amount was $18,390.36 while the 2021 projected amount is $20,000, for building the 2020 amount was $19,707 while the 2021 projected amount is $18,500, for the Limerick Community Centre the 2020 amount was $665 while the projected 2021 amount is $500, for planning and development the 2020 amount was $57,389.25 while the projected 2021 amount is $11,000, for federal government grants the2020 amount was $20,992.68 while the 2021 proposed amount is $139,696 and for other municipalities the 2020 amount was $273,154.46 while the proposed amount for 2021 is $112,305.
Tisdale then opened up the floor to council’s questions and discussion. Councillor Jan MacKillican had a question about why the council honorarium had gone up 11 per cent. Tisdale said she’d added in a two per cent cost of living increase and a little extra from last year so they didn’t go over budget, as they almost had last year.
MacKillican also had a question about conference and Zoom meeting costs under Administration, noting it had gone down from 2020 and wondering why. Tisdale replied that some of the cost last year was for conferences when council was attending in person before COVID-19. She said now that everything was virtual the cost decreased, and she didn’t foresee that changing much for the rest of the year.
Under the fire section, Councillor Kim Carson had a question about the increase allotted to equipment, and asked that if Jason [Gear, the fire chief] had put in for a grant for equipment and training, did the department also need this money as well. Tisdale said that they’d started spending the equipment budget last year to get things up to par as some things were pretty outdated.
“So, if we can purchase a little bit year over year, a couple of suits every year to keep it going so as they wear out, we can replace them. So that’s why I increased that a little bit. I kept it the same as last year but we just didn’t spend it all [from last year],” she says.
Regarding the grant that Gear was going to apply to for equipment and training, he requested that council pass a bylaw so he could get that government grant, and they said they would do so at the next council meeting in May.
Councillor Glenn Locke had a question regarding the fire call involving the propane truck rollover and where the large amount of income they would have gotten from it, saying it should have been around $10,000. Tisdale replied that it wasn’t $10,000 after the volunteer firefighters were paid out. She said that rather than getting points, some of the money went to pay the firefighters that were there on the call for three days. She said there was a balance of around $4,000 and it got put into their Fire Agreement from last year which was significantly more than the $32,000 they had budgeted.
“So, there is some money left over and we can put that into equipment. But you’re right. I didn’t have it reflected here. I’ll add it in,” she says.
Gear told council that as far as training went, 2020 was slow due to COVID-19 and everything seemed to be cancelled, hence why they were moving ahead with the grant and the online training.
Under building, Tisdale said she’d added the two per cent cost of living increase for CBO Frank Mills and the staff, but that was the only change.
Under roads, Tisdale said that a two per cent cost of living increase was enacted and that they’ll need to hire a part-time operator this winter. There was $30,000 in the budget not used from last year, so she diverted it to be spent on gravel and the alarm systems at the office.
The auto parts and repairs budget were all in one account last year according to Tisdale, so she created several new accounts to separate the parts and repairs budgets for each piece of equipment for ease of access.
Mayor Carl Stefanski had a question about signage under roads. He recommended that signage be put up on all private roads in the township that indicated they were not serviced or got limited service, precluding a potential civil liability. If that were to happen, he wondered if the $9,500 allotted would be enough. The cost of the signage would be contingent on the number of roads, labour and equipment, so a figure was not yet available. Council decided to approve the $9,500 figure and see how the situation pans out over the next year. Councillor Ingo Weise suggested that some of these roads may already have signs, so the signs they might end up needing would be minimal, perhaps only a few.
Tisdale proposed to put $150,000 in reserves this year, as they need to purchase a new dump truck as per their Asset Management Plan.
For Old Hastings Road, Tisdale said that OCIF funding of $50,000 was included for a total of $100,000 this year for upgrades like gravel, ditching and rock breaking.
Tisdale had earmarked $25,000 in the Waste Disposal reserves this year, as the township needs $250,000 in that account to close down the waste sites in 2038. At this point, they only have $50,000 in the account. Council thought this was too much, and that $250,000 could be attained within 17 years with a lesser amount yearly. Therefore, they lowered the amount to $20,000 for 2021.
Tisdale explained that the health services section was for water testing at the Limerick Community Centre and the municipal office. I had been buried within the Miscellaneous account, but was now its own category.
For shoreline road allowances, Tisdale said that they did have some legal fees. From each shoreline allowance, the ratepayer pays most of it but the township has to pay a small amount too.
“So that’s why it’s $5,000 in there. We’ve been moving forward on the shorelines and I have a bunch of them on the go right now, so I’m foreseeing some costs,” she says.
For the Limerick Community Centre, Tisdale said that salaries had gone up due to COVID-19 cleaning and so the amount was greater than $3,500. She thought $10,000 might be a bit aggressive and probably not that high, but it will be higher than usual. She said everything else is pretty much the same and $7,500 will be going into the reserve account for the community centre, same as last year.
Carson brought up including money in the budget for permanent washrooms outside the community centre. Tisdale said it wasn’t yet in the budget but should be included. She said they’d been in contact with the Crowe Valley Conservation Authority about how much their outdoor washrooms cost, and they’re waiting to hear back. In light of that extra cost, council decided to take $3,000 from Waste Disposal reserves (taking it down to $17,000) and putting it into the reserves for the community centre, taking that amount from $7,500 to $10,500.
Tisdale mentioned that there was also an ICIP grant in the amount of $100,000 which was a new addition to the budget.
“So, if everyone is good with [the expenses], I will make some adjustments and bring it to the next council,” she says.
With that they moved into revenues and Tisdale asked if there were any questions and heard none.
“I have reflected in there we have accrued some money from the pickup truck in 2020, the cannabis funding to pay for our CSWB and our fire services. We’ve got a grant coming in and the rest are just our typical revenues like taxes,” she says.
Carson had a question on general miscellaneous and why it had gone from $26,000 to $10,000. Tisdale replied that some of the miscellaneous revenues should have been split between different accounts. She said some of it was for shoreline road allowances, some of it for planning fees and said it should have been reflected in other areas.
“So that’s why I lowered that a bit. The other general miscellaneous stuff we do get is when we sell our firefighter books and our smoke alarms. Those go into that. Less people are buying those things with COVID-19 so there’s less money coming in and that’s why that’s a bit lower,” she says.
Tisdale said that overall, between expenses and revenues, the amount that needs to be raised through taxation is $1,180,644.83, which will necessitate a 0.4 per cent tax increase in 2021. With a thumbs up from council on a job well done by Tisdale and staff with the draft budget, and no further questions, council adjourned the meeting.
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times