I agree with your assessment that the draft budget as presented appears much better than that of other municipalities. It’s certainly the most responsible we’ve seen in recent years. There are still some concerns, though.
First, compared to most neighbouring municipalities, Meaford’s property taxes are quite high. (Owen Sound is often thrown in to sway the average; it doesn’t belong in a fair comparison.) For that reason, a 3.47% increase isn’t quite as good as it seems. If the percentage is calculated from a higher number, the actual net dollar increase is still higher than if, for instance, Georgian Bluffs applied the same increase. Percentages can be quite deceptive.
This budget still includes a substantial fund of the vehicle leasing contract, one which was supposed to represent a financial savings over ownership, but never has. As I’ve demonstrated repeatedly to any councillors willing to look at the numbers, it’s a more expensive alternative that needs to stop.
The other concern that struck me was the library. After the expenditure of several million dollars to build a building whose design goes against our own heritage standards, this year’s budget is for almost $698,000. Just to put that number in perspective, it costs us around $2,000 per day to operate the library. Wages alone amount to $185 per hour of operation. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to question if this number could be lowered considerably.
Bill Cameron, Bognor