The second draft of the 2019 Municipal Budget continues to project a 2.5% increase in the municipal tax levy.
Since the original draft, some updates have been made. On the positive side, corporate insurance premiums have declined by 2.85% across all departments, and some other expenditures have been removed, the most significant one being a reduction to the reserve transfer for the Fire Hall from $ 1 million to $612,575.
Discussions continued regarding a disturbing announcement from the province last week regarding one of municipalities’ key external funding sources. Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli advised that transfers under the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) were no longer considered sustainable and that municipal allocation notices regarding their transfer amounts would be delayed subject to a detailed review. Last year funding from this sources totalled $506,000, or the equivalent of a 6% tax levy. The province has transfered 25% of last year’s amount to all municipalities “for cash flow purposes”, but indicated this was not a reflection of their final allocation, but given the money has been received, amount does represent the floor. Ms. Pope is participating in further discussions this week as the province convenes meetings with local governments as part of its review process.
The Public Budget Meeting last week was attended by only four residents. Former Deputy Mayor John Fallis was on hand asking where the township stood in regards to its Road Needs Study. Previous studies have indicated that the annual target allocation for road work in the municipality should be in the neighbourhood of $2 million to maintain the quality of municipal road surfaces. The township has never been able to approach this target, and typically spends closer to $1 million. Mayor McFadden explained that this goal was unattainable for the township which is ineligible for provincial gas tax funding for road work because there is no local transit system. The township has been using a slurry seal for road tops which extends its useable life at a lower cost. The issue will be re-examine this year when a new road needs study is conducted.
In response to Environmental reports suggesting the urgent need for climate mitigation action, Millbrook resident Glen Spurrell asked Council members to identify any actions reflected in the budget to that end. Staff outlined a number of energy-saving initiatives including light retrofitting, planning policies including new tree planting policies and stormwater management requirements for new development and waste reduction initiatives as well as participation in organizations including Sustainable Peterborough.
Save the DamMillPond group spokesperson Rob Ross repeated his request originally put forward in a delegation to Council in December about the possibility of continuing the sediment removal activity on the west side of the pond to the originally quoted level of 15,000 cubic meters. He noted that the draft budget presented included a payment of $48,000 for half of the sediment removed to date, but included no reference to the possibility of further dredging activity. Chief Administrative Officer Yvette Hurley explained that a request has been made to ORCA to explore the possibility of further dredging and its potential expense. The contract with the construction company responsible for the project extends to July, so they control operations at the site until then. A staff report on the subject will be submitted to Council when more information is available. The budget is scheduled for approval on Feb. 19th . KG