Highlands East is standing pat on making bigger changes to its organization in this year’s budget as it waits for more reviews.

Council examined a new draft of the 2020 budget Jan. 28. It features a 3.85 per cent levy increase, amounting to $18 per $100,000 of assessment.

Many recommendations for the facility and organizational enhancements made in recent reviews, were tabled for this year, CAO Shannon Hunter said. Although she said these bigger changes are important for sustainability, the present financial picture must be factored in.

“Financial availability and sustainability of the recommendations need to be considered,” Hunter said. “What is presented in this budget is what has to be done in the current year to maintain the assets as we have them. So, this is just a maintaining mechanism.”

The municipality is tentatively allotting funding for several recommendations from facilities and organizational reviews, including $125,000 for a new municipal office and $10,000 for a consultant to review ward structures for the possibility of deputy mayor elections.

A facility review from consultant WaterFeldy said large repairs were needed at many facilities in Highlands East, including several fire halls. But Hunter said the budget includes only what is necessary to meet health and safety requirements.

That includes $59,600 for roof repair and exhaust fans at Station 6, $20,000 each for exhaust fans at Stations 1 and 2, $42,560 for exhaust fans and roof repair at Station 4 and $20,000 for repairs at Station 3.

The budget also includes several repairs to Cardiff facilities, including $200,000 for new change rooms, bathrooms, pump house and concrete repair at the pool, recommended in a facility review.

The budget has not yet received final approval.

Hunter said the bigger recommendations would have to wait until after the municipality finishes reviewing fire services and a County service delivery review.

“Due to those items, the draft budget presented … doesn’t include many of the items our budget should include,” she said.

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Joseph Quigley is a staff writer with The Highlander. Joseph is always digging hard for news stories and covers all the latest happenings in the County of Haliburton. He believes in the importance of local news, finding more to every story and listening to marginalized voices. When he’s not working on news, Joseph finds himself getting all-too engaged in social media and cheering on his favourite Toronto Maple Leafs.