Tudor and Cashel examine financial impact of winter maintenance on its class 6B roads

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Nancy Carrol, the clerk and treasurer for Tudor and Cashel Township, brought forth a report to council at their June 7 meeting, looking at the financial impact of the township providing winter maintenance on four seasonally maintained roads going forward. After some questions and discussions from council, they voted to have Carrol and staff get some firm quotes from a contractor on winter maintenance of these roads and put out a survey to the applicable residents to see if they’d be amenable to the tax increase they would incur having these services in place.

Tudor and Cashel Township council requested that Carrol and staff look into the financial impact, including the insurance requirements of providing this winter maintenance on three of the township’s seasonally maintained roads at their April 5 budget meeting. The roads in question are South Steenburg Lake Road, North Jordan Lake Road and East Road. At the May 3 council meeting, staff were directed to get the financial information from MPAC regarding assessment changes from a level of service increase.

“Council also directed staff to analyze the long-term cost to change the level of service on roads within the township,” she said in her report.

Within Tudor and Cashel, there are 5.8 kilometres of seasonal roads that do not get winter maintenance, and were built to reflect this intended use. They are classified as class 6B roads, as per bylaw 2013-31. Additionally, with the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting restrictions, including working from home, many previously seasonal residents of Tudor and Cashel decided to move here and make the area their permanent residence, and consequently require this type of winter maintenance that they did not need before.

Carrol said in her report that she had reached out to local contractors for the annual estimated cost of plowing the roads. She said that based on the numbers collected, it could cost between $2,250 to $4,000 per kilometre for the services, based upon 2021/2022 season costs, and could vary based upon the nature of the road. She cautions that due to inflation and fuel costs, the estimates may need to be raised accordingly. She also said that their current insurer recommends that any potential contractor provide evidence of $5,000,000 of coverage, adding the municipality as additional insured with respect to this contract. As well as for automobile, they also recommended $5,000,000 as a best practice.

“The report received from MPAC gave an overall assessment increase of $3,176,069. This value includes South Steenburg Lake Road, North Jordan Lake Road and East Road. This year’s municipal levy of 0.7888 per cent for residential property that equals a total of $25,053. The high end estimated cost per kilometre at four per cent inflation is $4,160 per kilometre which works out to $24,128 over the 5.8 kilometres. Assessment values normally update every four years. At a more average inflation rate of two per cent over four years, the second-year estimate is $24,611, the third-year estimate is $25,103 and the fourth-year estimate is $25,605. The lower end estimated cost per kilometre at four per cent inflation is $2,340 per kilometre which works out to $13,572 over 5.8 kilometres. The assessment values normally update every four years. At a more average inflation value of two per cent over four years, the second-year estimate would be $13,843, the third-year estimate would be $14,120 and the fourth-year estimate would be $14,403,” she says.

At the meeting on June 7, Carrol told council it would probably be worthwhile to reach out to the people on these roads who would be affected by these service changes.

“We could just do a survey and make sure that everybody is okay with it, because it’s a significant assessment change of anywhere from eight per cent to 12 per cent across the board if this goes ahead [from what Carrol learned from her correspondence with MPAC],” she says.

Council agreed to proceed with the survey to see if the affected residents would want to go ahead despite the increase it would incur with their taxes. Councillor Bob Bridger suggested putting out an RFQ to see what the exact costs would be for a contractor too plow these roads in the winter, which the rest of council agreed with.

Bridger also brought up that he thought that Moores Lane was also included in the class 6B roads that would receive this winter maintenance in addition to the other three roads. Carrol and the rest of council acknowledged this to be the case and the motions were changed to reflect this addition of Moores Lane to the list of class 6B roads. Carrol clarified after the meeting that the 5.8 kilometre figure included Moores Lane, but she just hadn’t added Moores Lane to the list of roads.

In the end, Carrol was instructed to prepare the RFQ for possible winter maintenance on these four roads to get exact quotes for council to consider and she said she would work on the survey to send out to the roads’ residents to see if they’re alright with this winter maintenance being implemented even if it means their taxes would go up.

Carrol told The Bancroft Times on June 16 that she hoped to have the RFQ and the surveys for the applicable residents ready by the end of the week.

“I feel that council recognizes that changes to levels of service within the municipality are very difficult, whether they be increases or decreases. There are many property owners in Tudor and Cashel Township that feel very strongly about these changes and council recognizes this, but they must also consider the long-term effects on the township when such changes are adopted,” she says. “Municipal councils have a responsibility to all property owners within their municipality and in turn work to make their decisions based on what is best for the municipality as a whole.”

Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times

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