“In keeping with the Long-Term Financial Plan that we adopted in 2015, Council directed staff to prepare a budget with a 2% tax rate increase over and above assessment growth in order to address our infrastructure deficit,” commented Mayor David Gordon.
The infrastructure deficit is addressed by the $5.9 million included in the budget for capital projects including a full rebuild of Hurd Street and River Road from Colonel Drive to Muldoon Road. In addition, Whitney Road, Townline Road from County Road 20 to Tompkins Road and McGovern Road East from County Road 44 to Townline Road will be converted from gravel to hard surfaces and sections of Bedell Road, Visiting Road and Arcand Road will receive gravel rehabilitation.
Other capital projects in the 2017 budget include the replacement of the play structure in South Gower Park with a new accessible structure, the completion of the 5-year review of the Official Plan, the installation of 8 enhanced crosswalks in the downtown and live streaming of Council and Committee of the Whole meetings as well as the completion of the Waterfront Trail and the multi-use pathway on County Road 44. Details on all of the capital projects contained in the budget as well as a copy of the full detailed budget are available here on the Municipal website.
CAO Brian Carré noted that the development of the budget was challenging due to a variety of budget pressures and drivers. ”This year’s budget was especially challenging as we needed to incorporate the Provincial carbon tax as part of our operating costs and this over and above a 1.8% inflation rate and an annual infrastructure deficit of $1.34 million”. In general, the trend in Ontario municipalities has the cost of expenses outpacing revenues and North Grenville is no different. It is anticipated that hydro costs will rise around 10% in 2017. In addition, the implementation of the Provincial Cap and Trade program will have a significant, but largely unknown, impact on many aspects of Municipal operations.
The budget process began in the fall of 2016 with a pre-budget survey asking residents and business owners to rate on a scale how important a variety of Municipal projects were to them. The survey results were analyzed by staff prior to the preparation of the first draft of the budget which was then presented to Committee of the Whole and the public in January. A number of public meetings were held and feedback from the public was invited via social media, media releases and the Municipal website. All of the feedback and questions received were answered by staff or Council at subsequent meetings and all of those questions and answers were posted on the budget page of the Municipal website along with the detailed budget and the presentations staff gave at meetings.
“On behalf of Council I would like to thank staff for the work they did in the preparation of the 2017 budget,” said Deputy Mayor Barb Tobin. “It was hard work to keep moving forward with the plan and continue to address our infrastructure deficit while at the same time handling the pressures and challenges that this year brought.”