Budget deliberations for Central Frontenac Township began in earnest Monday night at the Oso Fire Hall and although it was only the capital budget discussed (the operating budget, which tends to affect the tax levy more than the capital, is still to come), it could be an expensive year.
Granted, the pencils haven’t been sharpened yet to make cuts but out of the gate, capital budget is at $2,779,000 as opposed to last year’s $2,491,111, an increase of $287,889.
“You need to increase capital to provide services or change your service delivery level,” said Clerk Administrator Cathy MacMunn.
Some items aren’t likely to fly such as a $20,000 ask for a wireless microphone system for Council meetings.
Dep. Mayor Tom Dewey argued for the system citing it being easier to set up and take down as well as no cables to trip over or get in the way.
But Coun. Brent Cameron responded “is there $20,000 worth of frustration there?”
There was also a $20,000 request for a new hard-wired generator for the emergency operations centre (aka the Oso firehall).
But Mayor Frances Smith had to ask three times how many generators they already have and it turns out that each firehall already has a large generator and the Arden hall has a smaller one. They just don’t turn on automatically when the lights go out. There’s also a large portable generator which was used when power went out at a Council meeting not too long ago.
Fire and emergency services also has put in for $216,680 for more bunker gear. That spending has already been approved but the reserve fund has to be replenished.
Speaking of reserves, replenishing them is also a priority.
“Does $884,000 sound like a lot?” said Smith.
“It is but it is within ministry guidelines and it eventually gets us to a point where we can loan to ourselves and thus save interest fees,” said Treasurer Michael McGovern. “I’m not in favour of capital loans because of the interest factor.”
And then there was Fire Chief Greg Robinson’s plan to use the former Parham firehall for a storage facility.
But Smith wasn’t on board with that.
“There’s places in that building where you can look through the cracks and see outside,” she said. “I think we have to make a decision that when we shut down a building, we don’t heat it.”
It looked like Public Works Manager Brad Thake’s plan to buy a new grader for about $300,000 might have wings and he made a case for three new ½ ton pickups.
“Right now we’re using big trucks to do jobs ½ tons could do and this would save wear and tear on our larger, more expensive equipment,” he said.
He also said he’s looked at equipment for sidewalks in Sharbot Lake but because they tend to be narrower, it will take specialized snow removal equipment.
“I’d like to address the sidewalks next winter,” he said.
Coun. Jamie Riddell made a plea to finish up the Mountain Grove ballfield.
Smith responded: “That should be your job and Victor’s (Coun. Heese).”
“I’m just here to ask questions and point fingers,” said Riddell.
McGovern wound up the meeting by saying there is a 2.7 per cent increase in assessment this year, which will have a $220,000 impact and that a spending increase of $72,500 would increase taxes by 1 per cent. He also said he’s looking at the end of January to bring in an operating budget.