Council Preview: Dec 4, 2019

As always, thanks for opening up this Middlesex Centre Council meeting preview and taking an interest about how your user fees, property taxes, development charges, etc. are spent. Here is the full agenda for the December 4 Council meeting.

This meeting, since it’s a special meeting, will start at 09:30. It’s a light agenda in terms of the number of items, but the operating budget presentation will likely last a few hours.

Staff Reports

  • Staff are looking for Council’s direction on whether to apply for the province’s Municipal Modernization Program. If successful, the funds would pay for completing our asset management plan which needs to happen anyway.
  • And then we will look at the 2020 draft operating budget, and the 2020 budget book.

2020 Budget Highlights

Capital Budget

  • Councillors Heffernan and Scott were on the budget committee this year (I was previously on the committee in 2017 with Deputy Mayor Brennan)
  • Slide 29 highlights how capital projects will be funded in 2020
  • Overall, capital expenditures has not changed much from last year, but the focus of them has.
  • One way or another, we should finally be implementing live streaming in 2020. The $45,000 currently earmarked is, in my opinion, far too high but is based on an estimate provided by County IT. That estimate included a lot of devices that I don’t think we need, and the CAO and I have spoken about this several times. I’m confident we can get the actual spend down to the $20,000 to $25,000 range.
  • The Wellness Centre will see a small infusion of cash to replace a dehumidifier, cooling tower catwalk, floor scrubber, resurface gym floor, furniture, and some rink boards.
  • A $2,285,000 line item for Old River Road to perform some substantial work to improve the strength and performance of the road.
  • $500,000 to service the land north of the Wellness Centre.
  • A little over $1,000,000 to properly demolish the Kilworth Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Operating Budget

  • Policing costs are increasing by 6.24%
  • Insurance costs are increasing by 9.7%
  • Conservation authorities increase of 8.4%
  • Middlesex Centre will receive $0 from multiple provincial and federal grants, leading partially to a $1,866,748 decrease in grant revenue that has to be made up
  • Hydro costs increasing by $31,234
  • New asset management software at $20,000
  • Increasing the level of service on playfields including topdressing, fertilizing, aeration and third party grass cutting
  • $610,000 will be spent on maintaining our entire 278km gravel road network including grading and dragging and the application of new gravel on a bi-annual basis to resurface the roads, and applying calcium for dust control once per year

All this leads to a potential property tax increase of $98 on an home currently assessed at a value of $400,000.

This could all change if the municipality continues to receive Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund funding, but the province has not told us what the future holds for that program.

Notice of Motion

After a long period of research, discussions and seeing what some other municipalities would do, I am finally bringing forth a motion to reduce the unposted speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h! This includes a comprehensive education program and an arrangement with OPP to help us enforce the new by-law if and when it comes into effect.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please let me know!