Coun. Andrea Roberts would like a projected 3.24 per cent tax rate increase at the County whittled down using 2021 savings from payroll that went unused due to staff changeovers.
During a committee of the whole meeting Jan. 12, director of corporate services, Andrea Bull, presented a third draft of the 2022 budget.
The second draft was brought to the December committee of the whole meeting and included a total levy of $20,825,738, which equalled a 3.21 per cent tax rate increase.
Changes since then have included $40,000 for a new library website, which would be funded by Safe Restart money so have no impact on the budget. There has been an increase in OCIF-formula based funding from $284,000 to $630,334. Bull said that could cover the potential costs of a traffic light project on County Road 21. She had no details but said a report would come to a future council meeting. Other changes included a decrease of $11,967 in social services and housing and an added $2,500 for website licensing.
During a verbal presentation, she added she would like an extra $15,000 to cover anticipated insurance increases this year. Warden Liz Danielsen noted the library board looks to be trimming $15,000 from its projected budget so that timing was good on the insurance ask.
Roberts then said they’d have more information when they knew how expenses shook out in December – to have a better handle on where the 2021 budget came in at.
“We did have quite a staff changeover at the director’s level so sometimes in my mind, savings in that area, they don’t necessarily need to be carried over,” she said. “I would like to see a more fulsome report of where we’re at.
“I know we don’t have to make a decision right now but there are opportunities for savings from the 2021 budget. Generally, we get this big, long report ‘and this amount goes to this reserve and this amount goes to that reserve’ but why would you put savings from staff in a reserve?
“I know it was a difficult year but I would like to see if there’s an opportunity to even bring the levy lower than what it is if there are savings in that regard.”
Warden Liz Danielsen agreed it would be good information to have before finalizing the budget. Bull said she could provide a report.
Coun. Carol Moffatt added, “I don’t think there’s any rush. I think if we can just continue to cross some T’s and dot some I’s then I think we have a little bit of time to make sure that those things are done. It’s fine by me.”
Big-ticket budget items:
• Replacing two data center servers used by County and local municipalities; the County administration core switch; the public works administration copier; upgrading five staff laptops; one-third cost of a new IT technician emergency services.
• Purchase of two ambulances; replacing eight public access defibrillators; ambulance laptop and server contribution; upstaffing the Tory Hill base to 24/7 yearround and development of a master plan for paramedic services planning.
• Addition of funding for two bylaw officers and one plan examiner (six months) to enforce the shoreline preservation bylaw if approved.
• Continuation of the enhanced flood plain mapping project (LiDAR); implementation of climate change mitigation and adaption projects.
• New director of economic development and tourism
• Public works: 33.6km of road projects; six structure projects; purchase of 1/2 ton pick-up, a tandem plow and grad-all; salt storage shed at Highland Grove; roof repair and storage bin at Ingoldsby; garage windows for Eagle Lake buildings; renovations and roof replacement at the registry office.
• Increase in affordable housing target program funding; contribution for the Hwy. 35 development; addition of a procurement coordinator, community safety and wellbeing position (nine months); waste management study; implementation of electronic records management system; finishing implementation of new financial software for the library and the addition of 1.5 FTE staff and sick benefits for part-time staff.