Meaford councillors had a first look at the 2018 draft budgets at their October 30 meeting, and barring any major changes before the planned final vote on December 11, the proposed 3.893 percent increase will add $81.17 to the average single family dwelling's tax bill next year.
Once again the focus of next year's budget is infrastructure.
In September council directed staff to prepare a draft budget that included a maximum overall tax levy increase of four percent, including allocations of one percent dedicated to roads capital funding, one percent for capital funding of bridges, and 0.5 percent for capital funding of municipal facilities. Additionally council directed staff to “budget any tax levy increases resulting from real assessment growth due to new development and building construction assessment into the General Infrastructure Reserve Fund for future capital projects.”
Meaford Treasurer Darcy Chapman told council that while the draft budget presented will provide adequate funding to operate the municipality next year including a number of infrastructure projects, what isn't included in the 2018 draft budget are any service enhancements or road reconstruction projects that are not contained in the 'preservation model' previously adopted by council.
Users of the municipal water service will see their water rates rise by 6.79 percent, and their sewer rates increase by 5.79 percent in 2018.
After the October 30 draft budget presentation, councillors had a number of questions for Chapman, and they'll have until November 13 to prepare more questions for a planned council question and answer period. Before the council question and answer session a public engagement session will be held at Woodford Hall on Wednesday, November 8, which will allow ratepayers to ask questions and offer opinions on the draft budget.
“One thing that I'm quite pleased with is that under the state of the infrastructure for bridges, we're really close to spending $1 million next year, we're quite close,” noted Councillor Tony Bell. “We're finally going to get back out there, not just doing any bridge, but there's at least four bridges that are mentioned here, and I think that overall for an impact for residents, I think they will be very pleased to see that kind of action out in our municipality.”
As they have in previous years, municipal staff will be creating a summary of all budget questions received from councillors and members of the public. Residents can submit questions about the budget by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The questions and the answers will be posted on the municipal website beginning the week of November 8.
In addition to the November 8 public engagement session, a statutory public meeting will be held on Monday, December 4, in advance of the expected final vote to approve the 2018 municipal budget on December 11.
The following table provides important dates for the 2018 municipal budget deliberations:
Be sure to pick up a copy of this Thursday's print edition of The Meaford Independent which includes a number of tables and charts from the budget presentation to council.