November 5, 2020 · 0 Comments
By Peter Richardson
The 2021 budget preparation discussions opened with a synopsis of upcoming administration capital projects, public works capital projects and recreation department capital projects.
Treasurer Les Halucha outlined the administration cost for Council, citing departmental computer and software replacements as a $30,000 expense and the network security licence fee, for Dark Trace software, coming in at $15,265 and the one for the daily backup to the cloud at $9,415. The firewall replacement hardware added another $3,000, as did the office security system upgrade. However the most controversial item was $45,000 to replace all the office light fixtures. This sparked a debate amongst councillors as to the necessity for this, as well as the cost. Questions were raised as to why it was necessary, and also why parts that were defective could not be replaced versus the entire fixture. Deputy Mayor Creelman wanted to know who did the work and if there was any opportunity for recourse there, as the lights were only 10 years old. He also asked if the work would be tendered.
Kim Heaton replied that the drivers for the lights were at fault and that as the manufacturers was no longer in business, replacement parts were not available. CAO Early interjected that there was also a fire hazard issue caused by the transformers used, which are overheating, in the ceiling space. The Deputy Mayor noted that if there was a fire hazard, there must be more companies involved and that staff should check with the CSA to find out.
On the Public Works side, there were two arguable points. One, being the upgrades to Blind Line and the second, being the replacement of a bridge on Hurontario, north of Dufferin Road 7 (Hockley Road). Matt Donor explained that the rising costs of labour and materials were the reasons for the Blind Line cost increases. As for the bridge issue, he explained that it is a matter of age but that the road is used heavily by the works department three seasons of the year.
Coun. Fred Nix suggested that rather than replace the bridge it should just be closed, to which Deputy Mayor Creelman agreed, stating that it had only been rehabilitated in 1999 and was now in need of replacement. Matt explained that the existing footings and loop, are all original and that the bridge was built in 1920, so they are 100 years old. He went on to explain that the wing walls are deteriorating and the underpinnings are becoming eroded away by the water flow.
Town engineers agree that replacement is the best option at this point. Also the road is a major way to access the southern portions of the town.
In all the complete list of projects was valued at $3.7 million.
The recreation department projects only raised one point of contention, that being the request to purchase an All Terrain Vehicle for $16,500. Currently, all trail maintenance work is carried out by walking in, including carrying all necessary tools and materials and removing any wastes. The use of a ATV would greatly speed up the required maintenance and the vehicle could be used for other projects as well. The cost included the purchase of a trailer for the ATV.
Deputy Mayor Creelman immediately suggested that this was a huge price for a ATV and that the one quoted was a John Deere, who no longer have a dealership in the Town. He suggested that perhaps an arrangement could be made with the Nordic Ski club to use their ATV instead.
Coun. Martin said that the ski club would be amenable to this solution, though presently the ATV is used daily. She also noted that some trails can be accessed by truck. Coun. Ralph Manktelow, on the other side of the argument, stated that ATV’s are extremely useful. The issue was left for further investigation.
Next up, was the determination of the cost of living allowance and inflation rate for 2021.
Treasurer Halucha had determined the rate to be 1 percent for 2021 calculations. The County will use 1.5 percent, while Orangeville and Shelburne are both setting the rate at 2 percent. This rate will also be used for calculation of salaries for the Town’s employees.
The Deputy Mayor objected to the rate being used to increase salaries. Coun. Nix noted that this was only a guide so that the treasurer could prepare his budget numbers.
Council accepted the 1 percent increase regarding staff salaries.
Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen