By Josh Howald
You don’t ever want to make financial decisions with a gun to your head.
So Kincardine council is avoiding any hasty decisions this year, and last Wednesday discussed and accepted a draft capital budget. Ahead of schedule.
“In 10 years as mayor, this is the earliest we have ever seen a budget,” said Larry Kraemer, who was clearly pleased with staff being on the ball.
“Thanks to staff, we are farther ahead then we have ever been,” he said. “We’re two months ahead.”
What Council learned at last Wednesday’s meeting was that overall funding had decreased by 10 per cent. That is a result of Ontario Municipal Fund cutbacks, lower than expected revenue from bag tags and landfill fees and the loss of $200,000 from Bruce Telecom. The net impact of the decreased funding is $213,900.
The cost of the Municipality’s high-priority projects for 2013, plus 10 other projects carried over from 2012 comes in at $8.75 million. Nearly $4 million of that would come from existing reserves, while $3.6 million from government grants. An Ontario loan is worth $750,000, leaving taxpayers holding the bag for at least $262,000. Chief Administrative Officer Murray Clarke said a one per cent tax hike would generate $412,500 in revenue, leaving all of the projects paid for and the reserves in good shape.
Council had a special budget meeting planned for Monday night. Clarke told council members to arrive with priorities in order.
“If there are any elements any of you would like to look at, or add, let us know,” he said.
The 10 projects carried over from last year include upgrades at Kincardine Airport, a new roof for the Kincardine Library, more than $1 million worth of road and sidewalk work in Huron Ridge, a new watermain on Goderich Street and the resurfacing of the Davidson Centre track.
High priority projects for 2013 include on-site leachate treatment for the water treatment facility ($1.75 million), the completion of the $2 million Inverhuron sewer project, upgrades to the Kincardine Airport and the refrigeration system at the Tiverton arena, mould remediation at the Kincardine Centre for the Arts and extensive renovations to the Municipal Administration Centre. More than $900,000 worth of work is on the wish list, including new siding lobby renovations and a new heating/cooling system.
“If items come in under budget, we could also consider other projects,” said municipal treasurer Roxana Baumann.
Council members were asked to prioritize $50,000 for the Community Living housing project, membership to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, additional scales at the dump, Team Kincardine’s proposal for the old Foodland building, fighting the Emerald Ash Borer, the Kincardine Lions Club splash pad project and increased funding to art, culture and heritage.