Friday, July 12, 2024

Draft Budgets Presented to Council

Budget season has begun for Meaford councillors, who were presented with the draft budgets for 2024 at their January 15 meeting.

As presented, the draft budgets for 2024 require a 5.57 percent levy increase, and a projected tax rate increase of 3.47 percent on the municipal portion of property tax bills for Meaford ratepayers this year.

Users of Meaford’s water and wastewater system will see an 8 percent increase as in previous years.

Included in the base budget is a one percent cost of living increase for municipal staff, a $13,870 cost increase for policing, increases to insurance premiums, the OSNGUPL library contract, the Grey Sauble Conservation levy, along with other increases both known and assumed, adding more than $100,000 to the 2024 budget.

The draft budget, referred to by Councillor Steve Bartley as ‘very lean’ during the budget presentation at Monday’s council meeting, does not include any enhancements to service levels or staffing. The draft budgets also do not include the cost for Meaford residents to use Owen Sound’s leaf and yard waste facility. In September of last year, council approved $13,000 in funding for Meaford residents to use Owen Sound’s leaf and yard waste facility for the balance of 2023, but as yet there is no funding in the 2024 budget in order to continue access for Meaford residents in the coming year.

Also not included in the draft budgets is funding for the replacement of bridges 21 and 22, two small bridges on the Holland-Sydenham townline that have been closed for more than seven years, in spite of council’s pledge to have the bridges replaced and reopened. Staff noted in their presentation to council that they are confident that “existing reserves, Chatsworth contribution and provincial grant for prior federal PILT deficits will cover the cost.”

In preparing the draft budgets, staff also eliminated several projects that could have been undertaken in 2024 in order to “ensure that the budget is reasonable”, including the repaving of the arena parking lot, and the purchase of replacement financial software.

Though staff worked to produce a no-frills draft budget for council’s consideration, they did provide a list of potential budget enhancements should council be interested in adding to the budget. Among the enhancement proposals included in the draft budget are public opinion polling at a cost of $13,000, software with a cost of $42,500, firefighter benefits for $27,000, along with four proposed staff positions, namely an asset management coordinator, a project manager for the wastewater treatment plant expansion project, and two seasonal Cultural Services positions, which would add $100,000 to the budget should council approve the staffing enhancements.

Councillor Steve Bartley thanked staff for preparing a lean draft budget for council’s consideration.

I’ve watched all of the other municipalities’ budget processes, and they range from 10 percent to 30 percent, and each one of them over the past four years have cut things that have hurt them the next year,” Bartley told council. “And none of them have put money aside for future infrastructure, and that’s the difference between Meaford and the other eight municipalities. It’s the 2.5 (annual infrastructure funding) that we’ve done, puts us 15 points ahead of them right off the bat. I want to thank staff for bringing a very lean budget forward.”

Council will meet for two full-day budget deliberation sessions, with an option for a third day, with the first of those meetings to be held on Friday, January 26, the second on Tuesday, January 30, and the third day, if needed, on Friday, February 2.

There are several opportunities for public input throughout the process:

1. Submit your budget questions: the municipality will post budget questions and answers to their website weekly. You can ask your questions by emailing budgets@meaford.ca, calling 519-538-1060 ext. 1746, or by dropping by the Administration Office, located at 21 Trowbridge Street West, during regular hours of operation.

2. Participate in the budget public meetings: meetings are held at 157859 7th Line, Meaford, and are open to the public. You can attend in person or watch on the YouTube channel at www.meaford.ca/YouTube. To register to speak in person or virtually at a meeting, email deputyclerk@meaford.ca or call 519-538-1060 ext. 1100.

  • Friday, January 26, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Budget Day 1 – Operating Budget
  • Tuesday, January 30, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Budget Day 2 – Capital and Enhancements Budgets
  • Friday, February 2, 9 a.m. (if needed) – Final Consideration & Additional Deliberation of Draft Budget
  • Monday, February 12, 6:30 p.m. – Statutory Public Meeting (Special Meeting of Council)
  • Monday, March 11, (anticipated in Council at 1 p.m.) – Final Approval of the 2024 Budgets

3. Provide your feedback to Council: email all members of Council directly using council@meaford.ca.

Follow the updates and discussion to learn more and provide your feedback as the Municipality of Meaford determines its annual budget.

Visit www.meaford.ca/Budgets. Paper copies of the budget are available upon request.

Popular this week

Latest news