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mfd ops ctr 270Meaford's council has given initial approval to the 2020 municipal budget framework. The framework approved by council directs staff to prepare a draft budget including an overall tax levy increase not to exceed 4.56 percent.

In his report to council, Meaford Treasurer Darcy Chapman explained some of the challenges ahead during the budget process.

The estimates (in the 2020 – 2023 operating budget projections) indicated a potential increase of 3.3% in the operating budget and a total 8.7% increase due to capital project pressures in 2020. The biggest overall change in the assumptions relates to liability insurance increases, COLA increases, and added staffing that was not previously included. Given this, any initial target under 8% may very well be unattainable,” Chapman advised.

The projected increase to the base operating budget for 2020 is roughly $420,000, of which $106,400 is attributed to cost of living salary increases, $35,700 for increases in insurance policy premiums, and a projected increase of $61,600 for Meaford's policing contract with the OPP.

Council was pleased with the budget framework presented to council, and approved the recommendation 7-0.

The full direction of council contained in the approved budget framework is as follows:

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

1. Direct staff to prepare a draft budget including an overall tax levy increase not to exceed 4.56%;

2. Direct staff to prepare a draft tax supported operating budget with an increase not to exceed 2.06%;

3. Direct staff to prepare a draft budget inclusive of a 1% tax levy increase dedicated for roads capital funding under the Road State of the Infrastructure report’s 'Preservation Model' as approved by Council in September, 2014;

4. Direct staff to prepare a draft budget inclusive of a 1% tax levy increase dedicated for bridge capital funding under the Bridge and Culvert State of the Infrastructure report as approved by Council in June 2016;

5. Direct staff to prepare a draft budget inclusive of a 0.5% tax levy increase dedicated for facility capital funding under the Integrated Study: Facility Condition Assessment, Accessibility Assessment, and Energy Audit report as approved by Council in October 2016;

6. Direct Staff to prepare draft tax and user pay operating budgets incorporating a Cost of Living salary adjustment of 2.06% based on the 12 month average Ontario Consumer Price Index (August 2018 to July 2019);

7. Direct staff to budget any tax levy increases resulting from real assessment growth due to new development and building construction assessment into the General Infrastructure Reserve Fund for future capital projects;

8. Approve the allocation of $175,000 from the additional one time Federal Gas Tax funding received in 2019 towards the reconstruction and surfacing of the Euphrasia-St. Vincent Townline between 7th Line and Grey Road 7 in partnership with the Municipality of Grey Highlands;

9. Approve the allocation of $185,130 from the additional one time Federal Gas Tax funding received in 2019 towards the implementation of the Memorial Park Master Plan as it relates to breakwall, stormwater, and erosion control improvements;

10. Approve the allocation of $308,243 from the 2016 to 2018 Operating surplus towards funding of the New Library Capital project;

11. Approve the allocation of any 2019 Operating surplus towards funding of the New Library Capital project.

The draft budget is expected to be presented to council on November 4, followed by a public engagement session at Woodford Hall on November 13. After the public engagement session, council will have two full days to discuss and debate budget items on November 25 and 26. A statutory public meeting will then be held on December 16, with the final approval for the 2020 budget expected at council's January 13, 2020 meeting.