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First look at Wasaga Beach budget

 Gisele Winton Sarvis

GISELE WINTON SARVIS PHOTO/SPECIAL TO THE ENTERPRISE-BULLETIN
Jocelyn Lee, director of finance and treasurer for the Town of Wasaga Beach presents the first look at the 2018 operating and capital budget. The starting tax rate increase - with all departmental submissions and operational assumptions, including staff wage and benefit increases and beachfront property management, would be over 15%.

GISELE WINTON SARVIS PHOTO/SPECIAL TO THE ENTERPRISE-BULLETIN Jocelyn Lee, director of finance and treasurer for the Town of Wasaga Beach presents the first look at the 2018 operating and capital budget. The starting tax rate increase - with all departmental submissions and operational assumptions, including staff wage and benefit increases and beachfront property management, would be over 15%.

WASAGA BEACH - Treasurer Jocelyn Lee presented committee of the whole with the first roll-up of the 2018 budget at the Oct. 10 meeting that included a 3.06% tax increase.

This value was attained from staff working to whittle down expenses from September’s starting point budget that had a 15% tax increase.

The first roll-up included funds for council priorities including the development of the downtown, beachfront management and the construction of a multi-purpose recreation facility including a new arena and new library.

Included is $300,000 for the implementation of the downtown master plan, $1.2 million for beachfront activities, management board expenses, Beach 1 and 2 enforcement, events, the Main Street Market and the town-owned rental properties.

It also included $2.5 million to begin the architectural design and engineer for the new arena, indoor recreation space and library. Of this only less than $60,000 would come from taxation in 2018 and $1.45 million would be paid through a 25-year debenture. The remaining costs will be funded through reserve funds.

“I think we should change title to the community hub and not a multi-plex. It’s been talked about since we introduced the community plan which included an arena on Main Street,” said Coun. Bonnie Smith.

Deputy Mayor Nina Bifolchi said she was not sold on the location of a recreation centre being on Main Street.

“I feel like we are skipping steps here,” she said asking that more consultation be done before year’s end with community and sports groups that would using a new multi-plex.

Bifolchi also asked for all items relating to the waterfront management to be prepared on a separate sheet and brought under the one area, not dispersed through multiple town departments so she could see the total cost.

“Is there somewhere in the budget talking about expropriation and the costs of the downtown development master plan” she asked. “I think that’s important that we start that now,” she added.

CAO George Vadeboncoeur said the costs associated with the development of the downtown would be put on a separate sheet.

Mayor Brian Smith also asked for a list of items not included but requested to be on a separate sheet.

The first roll-up curbed any new initiatives and several staff additions but aimed to keep service levels status quo.

It also did not include other council priorities including an after-hours medical clinic or the provision of lifeguards at Beach Area One, wrote Lee in her report. These will be discussed at the next budget meeting.

A 3.06% tax increase would provide a municipal levy of $21.9 million.

Lee also said that the operating expenses are $34.68 million with funds coming from sources other than property taxes. The highest expenditures are with police and fire protection.

In all wages and benefits eat up about 40% of the funds with direct programs taking another 40%.

Senior staff then pitched their staffing, program and equipment requests to council to be considered in the final budget that included everything from a $500 enhancement to the tree lighting to a new $550,000 fire truck.

Fire Chief Mike McWilliam said the new truck is needed to replace the 1992 vehicle which is already well beyond the suggested 20-year-use.

“Using a vehicle that is older than 25 years will become a liability,” he said.

The department only has two rescue vehicles, one on each end of Wasaga Beach so not replacing it “would be significant reduction,” of service.

Further in 1992 the department responded to 200 calls a year and now responds to 1,500 calls a year.

“To reduce our fire department is dangerous,” he said.

The 3.09% model did include some new staff positions: one full-time librarian for adult and senior services for about $51,000; a junior position for the building department which would be funded through department revenue; a roads division employee and engineering technician for $52,000 and $70,000 respectively; and beach front warden (an expanded already seasonal position).

The next budget meeting will be held Oct. 24 in the afternoon before the 7 p.m. council meeting.

giselewintonsarvis@yahoo.com

Twitter.com/GiseleSarvis

 



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