Council was scheduled to meet Nov. 24 and 25 to discuss whether part or all of the requests from departments would be approved and paid for in next year’s budget. They have a large price tag that would require raising nearly another three quarters of a million dollars in taxes.
“What we want to take a look at too is if we need to decrease the taxes raised, we want to be careful not to just cut it from capital because it’s easier to defer that a year. Because that’s not solving a problem, it’s just deferring a problem to cost us potentially more down the road, especially if it’s replacing an existing asset.” treasurer Kristen McGill warned council at its Nov. 10 meeting.
A recent asset management report pegged the municipality’s capital worth at $9.2 million. Approving all the new requests would raise that cost to $13.5 million.
Budget consultation was open to residents from Oct. 12 to Nov.3. It got 88 responses.
Of those, respondents were split on priorities: 55 percent would like municipal services either maintained or increased, and 45 percent want services cut to maintain or reduce the tax rate.
Thirty-three percent said to increase taxes to enhance or expand services.
Where they wanted services increased most were economic development, recreation facilities, resident attraction/retention, road maintenance, and recreation programs.
Where the survey found people most wanted tax spending to go down in had some overlap: resident attraction/retention, recreation programs, planning services, and recreation facilities.
Most of the money proposed to be spent would be for the operations department, including recreation and facilities. Director of operations Greg Storms did not make the Nov. 10 meeting, but a summary of requests was presented.
The arena upgrade would cost $4.4 million. Nearly $1.8 million is to be funded with a 2019 grant from the Province and federal government, $68,200 is to be funded through reserves, and approximately $2.56 million would be borrowed over 20 years at a cost of $135,000 per year through the tax base.
“This one is still kind of in flux. The project’s moving forward, the funding’s been approved and been communicated. Now we’re just firming up scope and costs. So really now we need to create a placeholder for this in the budget funds to be reserved because we’re committed in some capacity to this project,” explained McGill.
The arena could be used for programming in summers after the upgrades. Six teams currently use the arena.
CAO Jill Bellchamber-Glazier told council that projects everywhere seem to have gone up in cost since the grant was approved, adding that cutting back on any part of the upgrade would mean less grant money.
The CAO also said municipal staff were asked to present at a Lions Club meeting for any potential community fundraising.
A new playground was requested for Appin at a cost of $200,000 with $154,000 funded through taxes. Glencoe train station deck and stair replacement would run $100,000 with $40,000 from taxes and the rest from reserve savings.
A land purchase in Wardsville for a multi-use building housing a future community centre, fire station and library would cost $150,000 with $135,000 of that borrowed and paid back with taxes. Another $150,000 would need to be borrowed for an emergency generator at the Glencoe arena that could then be used as an emergency shelter during power outages.
Proposed borrowing would also be needed for a new plow truck ($220,000 cost, $198,000 borrowed), water and sanitary modelling ($4 million cost, $3.78 million borrowed), and a fire department pickup truck ($50,000, $45,000 borrowed) and rescue truck ($425,000)
A big chunk of change will be needed for landfill remediation: Limerick is $1.08 million, and Trillium’s full cost is yet to be determined with $1 million already plan to be borrowed.
Some other new things proposed to be paid for with taxes, reserves or grants include mower ($30,000), backstop repairs in Appin and Glencoe ($36,000), sidewalks ($500,000, bridges and culverts ($531,000), and a fire master plan and risk assessment ($35,000).
Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner