Stephen Vance, Staff
Meaford council has given unanimous approval to the final draft of the 2017 municipal budget which will be brought before the public at a statutory public meeting on December 5, before council is expected to give final approval for the budget at their December 12 meeting.
The budget approved by council on November 21 includes significantly increased funding for roads, bridges, and facility infrastructure, and will result in a property tax increase (municipal portion) in 2017 of 2.963 percent.
In September council directed staff to prepare a draft budget with a maximum three percent rate increase for 2017 that included dedicated rate increases of one percent for roads capital funding, one percent for bridge infrastructure funding, 0.5 percent for municipal facility infrastructure needs, as well as a 0.5 percent increase in the base operating budget.
The budget prepared by staff actually decreased the base budget by $216,040 (1.8%), and even with all previously discussed budget enhancements included resulted in a proposed rate increase of 1.638 percent, prompting Mayor Barb Clumpus to suggest at council’s November 21 meeting that funding for infrastructure needs be increased by an extra $160,000, bringing the proposed rate increase for 2017 closer to the three percent requested by council in September. After some debate, Clumpus found unanimous support for her suggestion around the council table.
The mayor noted that though Meaford has cancelled and is trying to renegotiate its contract with the Owen Sound North Grey Union Public Library, which allows Sydenham residents full use of the OSNGUPL facility, the funding for that contract has remained in the budget.
“I just want to mention that within this budget currently we have $119,900 for the Owen Sound North Grey Union Public Library contract, and obviously that is going to stay in the budget. I want to make that publicly known because we are leaving that in there for offering library services to the municipality more efficiently,” noted the mayor.
The budget enhancements approved by council for inclusion in the final budget that will be presented at the December 5 statutory public meeting included $129,000 for additional transportation services staff, $5,000 for increased direct mailing of information to Meaford ratepayers, $6,500 for municipal flags and pins reflecting Meaford’s recently created coat of arms and flag, $14,125 for a records management initiative, $35,000 to embark on a regional master fire plan, $11,600 for enhanced municipal beautification and horticulture, $35,000 for a branding initiative which will be funded through the sale of municipal property as opposed to an increase in the budget, as well as a fifty cent increase (from $2.50 to $3.00) to the cost of garbage bag tags.
The proposed rate increases for users of Meaford’s municipal water and wastewater services in 2017 is 2.43 percent for water, and 5.15 percent for wastewater, down from recent years which had increases in excess of six percent.
The next steps for the 2017 municipal budget deliberations will be a statutory public meeting on December 5, with an anticipated final approval of the 2017 budget on December 12.
All budget documents are available on the municipal website (meaford.ca).
*Editor’s note: a correction to the water and wastewater rate increases was made to this article at 12:00 on November 25.