Saturday, February 24, 2024

Council Approves 2022 Budget Framework

Meaford Council has approved a framework from which the 2022 municipal budgets will be developed. The framework approved at Council’s July 26 meeting establishes a number of parameters to help form the 2022 budgets, however it was stressed that the framework is a guiding document that is not binding, and can be adjusted throughout the months’ long budgeting process.

The draft budget would include the incorporation of the suggested 1% increase to the levy as a dedicated source of funding to bridge the gap for long term Roads funding, the 1% increase to the levy as a dedicated source to fund long term Bridge and Culvert needs and the 0.5% increase to the levy as a dedicated source to fund long term Facility needs,” staff advised in their report.

The draft budget for 2022 will initially call for an increase of 4.2 percent, which would mean an increase of roughly $91 for the average homeowner in the municipality.

The single biggest taxable property type of single family dwelling makes up about 50% of all properties within the municipality. These 3,100 properties have an average assessment of $272,200. Based on this assessment, using a 4.2% budget increase, the ‘normal’ residential property owner would see their municipal levy share of the tax bill rise by +/- $91 annually or about $7.50 per month,” staff advised.

Though the report to Council is attributed to Treasurer Darcy Chapman, it is the final report submitted by Chapman who, as of July 14, is no longer employed by the municipality. Chapman’s departure was sudden, coming less than 48 hours after the July 12 council meeting, and a request for additional information by The Independent was denied.

During Council’s July 26 meeting Valerie Manning was appointed Acting Treasurer for the municipality.

Meaford’s annual budget is approximately $34 million, including tax and user rate funded operating and capital expenses.

The budget is prepared by staff between July and September, with the first draft presented in October. The 2022 budget will need to be responsive to the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the needs of program and facility users and the expectations of the community as seen from the Community Wellbeing Plan. The 2022 budget will be developed using existing service level expectations and approved master plans to guide capital project decisions,” staff noted in their report.

Members of Council are apprehensive about any budget item increases that aren’t seen to be absolutely necessary, and during Monday’s council meeting it was clear that some members of council are giving serious consideration to discontinuing the annual allocations for infrastructure needs.

As was noted in the report from staff, “Developing a budget that incorporates an additional 2.5% increase for core infrastructure renewal will meet many goals within Council’s Strategic Priorities however this continually puts additional pressure on taxpayers who may feel the levy is already high or that services are too excessive.”

The approval of the 2022 budget framework included the following considerations:

That Committee of the Whole recommend Council of the Municipality of Meaford:

1. Direct staff to prepare a draft budget inclusive of a 1% tax levy increase dedicated for roads capital funding;

2. Direct staff to prepare a draft budget inclusive of a 1% tax levy increase dedicated for bridge/structure capital funding;

3. Direct staff to prepare a draft budget inclusive of a 0.5% tax levy increase dedicated for facility capital funding;

4. Direct Staff to prepare draft tax and user pay operating budgets incorporating a Cost of Living salary adjustment of 1%;

5. Direct staff to budget any tax levy increases resulting from real assessment growth due to new development and building construction assessment as increased taxation revenue to offset new staffing as a result of growth pressures;

6. Approve the 2022 Canada Community-Building Fund grant estimated at $348,600 towards funding road resurfacing projects within the capital plan;

7. Approve the allocation of $335,100 from the additional one time Canada Community-Building Fund received in 2021 towards the Bayshore Road Asphalt Resurfacing and Drainage Works project; and

8. Approve the allocation of $916,346 from the 2021 and 2022 Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund grant towards BR015- Gilles Bridge.

The goal of staff is to have a budget passed in mid-January 2022.

The table below outlines the proposed schedule for all council sessions, public information meetings, and the Mandatory Public Meetings:

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