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Port Stanley News RSS Feed  News Central Elgin 2018 Budget Talks Now Underway


by Doug Harvey
Central Elgin 2018 Budget Talks Now Underway

It's that time again when the Municipality of Central Elgin begins a new year of budget discussions. For this year there three dates planned for the 2018 Budget talks with the first at 1:00 p.m. on January 31st, 2018, the next at 6:00 p.m. on February 5th, 2018, and the last is tentatively scheduled for February 12th, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. and all meetings are open to the public. The purpose of the first meeting is for Council to consider its goals, opportunities, challenges, and what key issues have to be dealt with according to priority.

Karen Harris Central Elgin's Director of Finance and Treasurer began the meeting with a power point presentation to Council that started with some of the major items that were accomplished in last year's 2017 budget:

  • Port Stanley Waste Water Treatment Plant
  • Port Stanley Fire Station Building Planning
  • Port Stanley Harbour Secondary Plan
  • Port Stanley Streetscaping Initiatives
  • Hofhuis Park
  • Reduction Of One Fire Fleet Vehicle
  • Addition Of A Fire Prevention Officer

Municipality of Central Elgin 2014-2018 Strategic Goals

Short Term Goals

  • Maintain spending at a level that is equal to or less than the rise in tax income collected due to increased assessments
  • Strengthen working partnerships between Central Elgin and surrounding areas
  • Develop parkland and trails through the development of a ten year Trails Master Plan

Long Term Goals

  • Develop an overarching design concept for the development of the harbour lands to guide the Municipality through the transformation of the lands following their remediation
  • Promote tourism and business development
  • Develop Hofhuis Park by 2017 as Central Elgin's primary Canada Sesquicentennial Project
  • Evaluate and assess operations in respect to equipment and staffing
  • Keep taxes sustainable and seek out opportunities and efficiencies
  • Continue working to reduce Central Elgin's environmental footprint in terms of waste, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions

Some of the opportunities that Central Elgin will realize in 2018 include:

  • The addition of 100 new roll numbers to MPAC from the new housing development of Sunset Bluffs in Port Stanley which added almost $550,000 in assessment growth.
  • Increases to the Farm Area measure of the Rural Communities Grant portion of the OMPF formula provided just over an additional $250,000 in funding towards 2018. This represents just over 2% towards the levy.
  • With the commissioning of the new Port Stanley Wastewater Treatment Plant as well as other service level enhancements, Central Elgin is well-positioned for anticipated growth for the next 20 years.

Some of the challenges that Central Elgin will realize in 2018 include:

  • Bill 148 - Employment Standards Act - The changes to the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work and on-call status pay will all have significant impacts to Central Elgin's operations.
  • Large increases in debt repayments for 2018 due to previous Council approved capital works projects - These impacts will cause delays in the preparation of the Water and Wastewater budgets for 2018 until the DC study, Water and Wastewater rate studies can be reviewed and adopted by Council.
  • Transport Canada audit of the Harbour financials for 2015 and 2016 - David Cleary of Samson and Associates will be in Central Elgin offices the week of February 5th so staff are recommending a delay in the presentation of the Harbour budget pending the outcome and suggestions for changes to accounting for the Harbour from that audit.

On the table for this years budget include:

  • Port Stanley Fire Station Location and Timing - An geo-technical issue has developed regarding the location for the new Port Stanley Fire Station on the recently purchased Green Roof property. A stable base for the current configuration of the building is not available on the property. Some options to overcome this setback were:
    • Redesign the current 3-Bay Station configuration to fit the lot,
    • Change the configuration from a 3-Bay Station to a 2-Bay Station to fit the lot,
    • Purchase an additional section of property at the corner of Sunset and East Road and redesign the 3-Bay Station configuration to fit the lot,
    • Purchase an additional section of property at the corner of Sunset and East Road and redesign a 2-Bay Station configuration to fit the lot,
    • Defer the final design to a future date and discontinue the work of the architect at this time.
    • Putting the new Port Stanley Fire Station on hold would require spending $200,000 on mould abatement, wall repairs and a new roof for the old Port Stanley Fire Station in the short term. An additional $20,000 in land acquisition costs would be required to purchase the extra property from abutting landowners at the corner of Sunset and East Road. Changing the preferred building configuration to be built now from a 3-Bay Station to a 2-Bay Station would result in a $300,000 savings, but additional funding would be required by 2037 when that extra bay would be required to house 2 additional trucks.
  • Vehicle Replacement Strategy
  • Maple Street Walkway - The Maple Street Walkway to be constructed with concrete is proposed for the 2018 budget.
  • West Edith Cavell/Erie Rest Beach Parking - A paid Erie Rest Beach parking lot for 75 vehicles to be built is proposed for the 2018 budget.
  • Traffic Calming on Belmont Road to be built to slow down speeders proposed for the 2018 budget.
  • Dog Park in southern Central Elgin could be proposed for the 2018 budget.
  • Debt Limit Pressures - Using the long-term financing forecast for Central Elgin's annual debt repayment schedule the payment for 2018 is already at $3,900,000, and with a current debt limit of approximately $5,000,000 a cautious approach must be taken in order to control spending without raising taxes.

Because this was the first of three budget meetings, any proposals that were discussed today will make it to the next round of discussions where Council will have further input to refine it's selection of the 2018 Central Elgin Budget.

Last Updated: Thursday, 01 February 2018 10:30:00 AM EST

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