Thursday, July 25, 2024

2016 Municipal Budget Process Nearly Complete

By Stephen Vance, Staff

council chamber333The Municipality of Meaford is nearing the end of the 2016 budgeting process, and at the November 23 meeting municipal treasurer Darcy Chapman provided an update to council, which is expected to give final approval to the budget at the December 14 meeting.

Only one ratepayer attended the meeting, which was the final public budget meeting scheduled prior to the statutory public meeting which will be held at Bognor Hall on December 7 at 7 pm.

Earlier this year, council had asked staff to prepare an operating budget for 2016 that included a maximum two percent increase on the municipal portion of ratepayers’ property tax bills (while municipalities collect the funds, property tax bills are comprised of municipal, county, and school board levies), however at the November 23 meeting councillors voted in favour of an increase slightly higher than two percent, bringing the proposed 2016 municipal operating budget to nearly $13 million.

The largest portion of the municipal budget is consumed by the Financial Services and Infrastructure Management department at 29.8 percent, followed by Legislative and Protective Services at 23.3 percent. Parks, Recreation and Culture accounts for slightly more than 10 percent of tax dollar allocations, while the Library accounts for 4.3 percent. Development and Environmental Services uses 8.3 percent of the municipal tax dollars.

The draft budget includes a 1.5 percent cost of living increase for municipal staff, which if it holds through to the final budget approval, will add $63,300 to municipal staff salary costs in 2016. Meaford currently has 59 full time employees, and another 20.1 full time equivalent, part time, and seasonal staff, along with one contract employee for a total full time equivalent staff complement of 80.7 employees.

Prior to the November 23 budget meeting, the latest draft of the budget,would have seen a property tax increase of 1.2 percent on the municipal portion of property tax bills, however council asked for more money for roads and bridges (an additional $100,000) which brought the potential increase to 1.97 percent; as well, a budget error, which had omitted roughly $14,000 from the 2016 budget for non-resident fee subsidies for those participating in athletic programs offered by the City of Owen Sound, was caught by Councillor Steven Bartley, bringing the current proposed operating budget increase to 2.084 percent.

In addition to approving more funding for infrastructure, council also agreed to hold off on a planned upper parking lot paving project at the Meaford & St. Vincent Community Centre, and will instead use those funds to complete renovations to all of the dressing rooms at the arena in 2016. The dressing room renovations had previously been planned to be completed in three separate stages over the next three years.

Final approval for the 2016 municipal budgets is expected at the December 14 council meeting.

All budget documents are available on the municipal website (meaford.ca)

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