Tudor and Cashel Township council discussed their 2021 draft budget at their April 6 meeting. While some revisions and headway were made on some of the budget, the section of the budget on Roads was deferred to a Roads Committee meeting on April 20, as council wasn’t sure that the estimated amounts in the draft budget could be altered without getting input from the committee and the roads superintendent Glenn Hagerman on what the Roads Department would actually need to operate in 2021. The final budget is expected to be discussed, reviewed and passed at the May 4 council meeting.
Mayor Libby Clarke brought the meeting to order on April 6 and turned it over to Nancy Carrol, the clerk and treasurer, to present the draft budget for 2021.
“So, I’ve outlined each department below and provided information for each as it pertains to the expenses and revenue sources,” she says.
Township expenditures were as follows; under Administration the township spent $485,447.78 last year with a projected total of $407,538 this year, Roads spent $1,888,125.71 last year with $4,195,700.30 projected for 2021, Building came in at $36,093.66 last year with a projected total of $57,250 for 2021, the Community Centre came in at $17,256.22 last year with a 2021 projected total of $26,000, Waste Management spent $148,686.79 last year with a projected total of $145,500 for 2021, Fire came in at $111,954.20 last year with a projected total of $151,200 in 2021, and Other (which includes animal control, emergency measures/CEMC, emergency generator, cleaning nurses station, policing, tri-area medical, the recreation committee, the cemetery board, the library, beach/health facility, the Crowe Valley/Quinte conservation, health and safety, sustainability, the Seniors’ grant, the Green Energy Act, contingency, the waste management committee, accessibility renovation, the accessible website, the Integrity Commissioner reserve and the committee of safety and well-being) spent $320,295.27 last year, but has a projected total of $415,264 for 2021.
Township Revenues are as follows; under Administration $873,674.50 was brought in 2020 with a projected total of $844,795.53 for 2021, Roads came in at $120,632.75 last year but has a projected total of $3,002,054.80 for 2021, Building brought in $68,600 last year, but only $57,250 for 2021, the Community Centre came in at $4,219 last year but brought in $8,480 in 2021, Waste Management came in at $23,303 last year but brought in $22,950 this year, Fire had a zero balance last year, but this year $27,500 (which was payment to Limerick Township for fire services) was transferred from reserves, and Other (which includes tax penalties/interest, planning/zoning fees, shoreline road allowance sales, the 2020 Seniors’ grant, the Accessibility grant, Cannabis funding for the CSWB, Cannabis funding for First Aid training, the rolled operating surplus, COVID-19 funding for the new phone system) brought in $51,107.94 last year and had a projected total of $215,117 for 2021.
Carrol told council that all Expenditure costs under Administration were estimated from last year’s actual amounts. She said that there were some differences as some things did not occur and there were larger amounts due to other activities happening due to COVID-19 and its restrictions.
Carrol said she’d added a 4.5 per cent increase to the insurance for the municipality as it seems to be going up year after year.
Carrol said that the Bridge needs study was mandatory as it had to be done very two years, and the last one was done in 2019. She said she’d gotten quotes from both Greer Galloway and Jewell Engineering for the completion of that study.
The Weslemkoon Lake Road rehabilitation project was continuing from last year and is being funded mostly by the province and the federal government. The township has to cover 6.6 per cent of the work plus HST. This comes out to $103,234. The work on Centre Millbridge Road, West Road, and a portion of Old Hastings Road is also required and the grand total for work on the roads is estimated to cost around $1,076,160. She said that council could use AMO Gas Tax funding and OCIF Gas Tax Funding in the amount of $299,292 and the rest would be covered by Reserves. In addition, the HST in the amount of $343,240.80 must also be covered by the municipality.
Carrol informed council that the library board had requested an additional $1,000 for 2021. She said she continued to add to the Contingency expense account in the amount of $20,000 in the event that any expense pops up that the township did not plan for.
Carrol said that at that point, there would be a tax increase of approximately 3.6 per cent for 2021. She then opened up the floor to council’s questions and discussion.
Councillor Bob Bridger asked why the council honorarium/mileage line under Administration had gone from $26,690.64 in 2020 to a projected $32,000 in 2021.
“Why is it going up that amount? Especially with COVID-19 restrictions and Zoom meetings resulting in lower mileage. I don’t understand why that has to go up. If anything, it should go down,” he says.
Bridger further emphasized that they should be looking at not only this item but anything in the budget that can reduce the proposed 3.6 per cent tax hike in a COVID-19 year. Councillor Roy Reeds and Councillor Noreen Reilly agreed, and council decided to reduce the amount to $27,000.
The council seminars/training line came under scrutiny by Clarke, who asked why it had to be $8,000 when only $3,439.83 was spent in 2020.
“Can we reduce that as well? I don’t see any seminars and training coming up this year unless you do them virtually,” she says.
Reilly suggested reducing it to $4,000 which was agreed to by council.
Bridger also had a query about the $10,000 allotted to Legal and why it was so high. Carrol replied that they need to have that in place in case of lawsuits and it has to be at least $5,000 as that is the township’s deductible. She mentioned she already had some legal fees from the FAMC bylaw review.
Bridger had a question on the budgeted amount for the Integrity commissioner for $11,000 in 2021 seeing as they only spent $502 in 2020. Carrol replied that she hoped it wasn’t necessary to spend that, but that even with a single complaint at $275 per hour, it doesn’t take long to add up. According to her notes on the draft budget, she had allotted each councillor 8 hours for consultation with the Integrity Commissioner.
A figure of $27,000 for interest on the Reserves money held at TD Bank brought forth a question from Bridger. He thought that if they were spending approximately 50 per cent of their reserves this year, and seeing as how they earned $13,715 in interest last year, that figure should be less than $13,715. After a bit of discussion, the figure was reduced to $10,000.
The council also had a variety of queries on some of the Roads projects and the allotted funds for them, like how much winter sand they would need this year, what roads projects needed to be done this year or could be deferred to next year and whether the Roads department needed $30,000 for culverts or whether that could be taken down a bit. Bridger brought up the fact that the roads superintendent Glenn Hagerman should have been there to answer these queries as there was ambiguity about what funding he would need in 2021 for Roads expenses. Therefore, council decided to wait for the next Roads Committee meeting to get those answers.
At the Roads Committee meeting on April 20, some issues on Roads expenses brought up at the April 6 council meeting were addressed and rectified. Reeds asked Hagerman if he needed the full $30,000 for culverts in 2021, and Hagerman did not have a ready answer, saying he’d get back to council on this. The committee agreed to cut the winter sand budget from $82,000 to $66,000, and to pare down the Roads rehabilitation projects for the 2021 year to save some money. They suggested just doing Weslemkoon Road from Hwy 62 to Sutton Road, gravel on Old Hastings Road, installing a culvert on Egan Creek Road and possibly addressing an issue with a road washout on South Steenburg Lake Road (Hagerman is still waiting on a quote to fix this). Hagerman said he will be at the May 4 meeting to answer any further council queries when they review the budget.
Carrol concluded her presentation on April 6 by saying that there was a surplus operating budget of $105, 528 in 2020 due to incomplete projects arising from COVID-19. She suggested transferring the surplus into the 2021 year, with $66,500 going into the budget and the remaining balance going into general reserves. The accounts comprising the $66,500 are as follows; Green Energy in the amount of $2,500, Public education and compliance in the amount of $2,000, Training in the amount of $500, fuel for the community centre in the amount of $5,000, equipment for the community centre in the amount of $500, safety devices in the amount of $25,000 (these are for guardrails that didn’t get installed last year), diesel for $17,000, Oscar (GPS system for township trucks) in the amount of $2,000 and legal for the Roads department in the amount of $12,000. After some discussion, council decided to put the entire $105,528 into Reserves and draw on it as needed for those projects throughout the year.
Carrol, who had been changing the numbers in real time with council’s amendments, told them that the tax increase was now 1.39 per cent. More amendments and discussion on this budget are expected in the coming weeks and at the next council meeting in May. At that point, Clarke ended council’s budget discussions and they moved into a closed session.
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times