May 14, 2014

Council passes budget, starts spending it

As published in The Erin Advocate

Erin Town Council passed its budget bylaw with no discussion last week, and then approved a series of spending proposals totalling $629,439.

All of the final changes to the $13.35 million budget were debated at the previous council meeting, so the bylaw was a quick formality with no members voting against it.

While spending is expected to increase by $6.1% this year, the amount to be raised through property taxes, $5.53 million, will be up by only 3.03%. The average property tax bill, for a property assessed at $387,750, will increase by $34 for Town purposes.

The Town only gets 24.4% of the local tax revenue, while the county gets 55.2% and school boards 20.4%.

Erin’s operating costs for 2014 are estimated at $8.77 million, down just slightly from last year, while capital expenditures will rise by just over $1 million to $4.37 million.

“The Town continues to commit to the renewal and improvements of our municipal assets and infrastructure,” said Finance Director Sharon Marshall.

Approval was done in a series of staggered resolutions, to enable Councillor Deb Callaghan to vote on the majority of the budget, but to step away from the council table and declare a conflict of interest on matters pertaining to the Fire Department and Operational Review, since her husband is Fire Chief Dan Callaghan.

The bylaw was passed early in the meeting, so council could deal with some tender approvals for budgeted items, all of which passed without opposition.

• $319,010 for replacement of the 1999 road grader,

• $29,877 for an autogreaser and an extended warranty on the grader,

• $40,943 for a one ton cab and chassis (Ford F450),

• $17,814 for an aluminum dump box,

• $83,909 for road dust suppressant,

• $85,819 for road surface treatment,

• $27,075 for a GMC Sierra Pickup, and

• $24,990 for a Development Charges Background Study.

Marshall also highlighted a number of other elements in the budget:

• $45,010 in grants to community groups,

• $64,245 for an Economic Development Officer,

• $602,683 to continue reconstruction of 17 Sideroad, from Trafalgar Road to the Second Line,

• Rehabilitation of Erin village streets, particularly Water Street and Waterford Drive, including catch basins, curbs, gutters and final restoration,

• Road surface treatment of the First Line to Lot 3, as well as Hilltop Road, Roman Blvd., Jane Street, Market Street, Wellington Street and Elizabeth Street in Hillsburgh,

• $190,000 for an Environmental Assessment on the Station Street Bridge and Dam,

• $52,800 to replace the ice plant condenser at the Erin Arena,

• $19,500 for partial replacement of the Centre 2000 HVAC equipment,

• Completion of major studies, including the Servicing and Settlement Master Plan (SSMP), an Operational Review, a Strategic Plan, a Green Energy Conservation Plan and a Water Supply & Distribution Report,

• $240,000 to replace 32 sets of Fire Department breathing apparatus to meet new standards,

• $501,213 to finish off the Hillsburgh Fire Hall, and

• $15,000 to restore the turf on Barbour soccer field #1.