At their special budget meeting on May 4, Tudor and Cashel Township council had a final discussion on the 2021 budget, making several more amendments before passing the budget at their regular meeting the same day. Overall, with the changes that were made over the past few weeks, the township can expect a zero per cent tax increase, down from the 3.6 per cent increase proposed with the draft budget at their draft budget meeting April 12. The final budget package should be posted on the township website (www.tudorandcashel.ca) soon.
Nancy Carrol, the clerk and treasurer, presented the updated budget to council on May 4, telling them that it reflected the changes requested at the April 12 meeting with regard to things like the council honorarium, travel and other items.
According to Carrol, she drafted the budget in a format that takes capital projects out of the annual operating budget to allow for a clearer representation of the regular annual costs associated with the municipality.
“This has been a difficult budget to complete given the decrease in revenues due to COVID-19. I have utilized the grants that are being provided by the upper tier governments to offset the loss of revenue and any additional costs from COVID-19,” she says.
With regard to culverts, Carrol said that had been reduced from $30,000 to $20,000, while for legal that amount had gone down to $10,000 from $12,000.
Pursuant to the increase presented by McDougall Insurance and Intact Insurance earlier on in the meeting, Carrol reiterated that the insurance amount for the township would increase by around $15,000 this year. This does not include the additional amount for cyber insurance, which Debra Murphy from Intact strongly recommended earlier in the meeting. Carrol said they already had a cyber insurance policy in place with another firm, but it becomes due for renewal at a later date. Overall, Carrol estimated $84,000 for insurance for 2021.
Quotes from both Greer Galloway and Jewell Engineering had been received for the completion of a bridge study (mandated every two years and due for this year) and a road needs study, and Carrol included the estimate for $10,000 to reflect the quotes received.
According to Carrol’s notes on the final budget, the township received an HST rebate in the amount of $142,495.53, which she suggested be put into reserves to cover previously transferred funds for the HST on purchases like the tandem truck in 2020 and the amount paid for HST on the largely ICIP funded Weslemkoon Lake Road rehabilitation as well as the township’s financial obligation on that project. The portion paid by the government on the Weslemkoon Lake Road rehabilitation is $1,464,700 while the township’s share to be paid is $104,678. She revealed that the HST for the truck and the ICIP 2020 project came to $99,256 and the township portion of the project at the end of 2020 was $33,058, for a total of $132,314. The remaining $10,000 can be used, at Carrol’s suggestion, to offset the capital project costs.
Councillor Bob Bridger had some questions about the HST rebate, which Carrol could not answer fully, leading to some confusion on the whole concept. This led Bridger to suggest that the HST rebate issue be referred to the township’s auditors for advice, and he made a motion to that effect. However, with no support from the other councillors, the motion died on the table.
Bridger also had some concerns about the current lack of an up-to-date asset management plan, especially with regard to which roads within the township needed work sooner rather than later and their corresponding costs to the township, sooner or later. Carrol said that she and her staff were working on such an asset management plan and it should be done soon. She also cited the upcoming Road Needs Study and the expertise of roads superintendent Glenn Hagerman and staff, which also provide valuable roads needs information including what needs to be done and how much to potentially spend on said work.
Councillor Noreen Reilly had a question about the lease of the tractor for which they bought a new drag for in the amount of $14,500. Carrol said that the lease of that tractor, at a cost of $3,000 per month, was spread through multiple accounts like brushing, ditching, rock breaking and disposal for compacting. It came to light that the new tractor could not accommodate the township’s grass cutting attachment, so they either need to lease a second smaller tractor for this, or contract the grass cutting out. Council decided to continue contracting out the grass cutting at $13,500 as the most economically viable option.
Bridger brought up a health and safety issue with the turnaround on Egan Creek Road, where provincial health and safety protocols had not been followed and a complete repair had not been done yet. Glenn Hagerman, the roads superintendent, said the work would cost approximately $10,000, and council inserted a line item in the budget to get this work done.
Deputy Mayor Bob Carroll had a question about diesel, and why it was at $55,000 this year when last year it came in at $37,881.14. Council decided to amend this cost and lower it to $45,000.
For waste management, Carrol said that there had been an increase in the removal of bulky waste, so that number had gone up to $7,000. She also said there was a need for further safety equipment at the sites. Each site has a Porto potty, but they added handwashing stations to increase cleanliness and sanitation. That raised this particular cost from $250 to $2,250 for 2021. Carrol mentioned that this was also being covered by COVID-19 funding, for which the township received $25,000 in total for this year.
Carrol said she had also removed sustainability from the previous budget in the amount of $1,500, as she didn’t foresee providing any programs in the near future.
“We also have the $7,200 in seniors’ grant that has some community programs tied to it, I didn’t feel that $1,500 was necessary in the budget,” she says.
Reserves and contributions, which used to be line items in expenditures, according to Carrol, had been separated so it was easier for council to see them as their own entity. These are; administration at $12,000, roads (for surface treatments) at $100,000, waste management at $10,000, fire at $10,000, capital at $75,000, Glanmire Bridge at $25,000 and the Integrity Commissioner $11,000.
Reilly suggested reducing the Integrity Commissioner funding down to $2,000 to $4,000. Carrol recommended leaving it at $11,000 at least for another year, to build up a pool of money in case of an investigation. This was predicated on eight hours allotted to each councillor and a $275 per hour cost. From what she’d heard from her counterparts at other municipalities, Integrity Commissioner investigations were becoming more prevalent as council meetings become even more scrutinized during COVID-19 with more access to virtual meetings. Therefore, it could conceivably be more costly with the prospect of more complaints. Clarke agreed with this, and council decided to leave the amount unchanged.
Carrol also took council through the revenues. For community centre, she said there was a rental from the Family Health Team every month of $3,900 and they paid for their own cleaning in the amount of $780. For waste management, she said this was the first year with the bag tags and the amount of $2,000 was an estimate. For the tandem truck sale, they got $37,158. Carrol pointed out the dedicated funds in the reserve budget to council including the AMO and OCIF Gas Tax of $59,292, COVID-19 safe restart funding in the amount of $25,000, the seniors grant of $7,200, cannabis funding of $8,000 (of which $5,000 went to the township’s CSWB and another $3,000 went to CPR training for staff) and the accessibility grant of $88,885.
Council then had a look at the capital budget. For the work on Weslemkoon Lake Road, Carrol said that the work still needs to be tendered out, so it may not even happen this year if the bidding firms are too busy. Largely funded by ICIP grant, the work consists of a 2.3-kilometre portion from Hwy 62 to Sutton Road and a seven-kilometre portion from Tower Hill to the boundary. They both need a single surface treatment to protect the existing surface.
Carroll had an issue with spending $95,000 on Old Hastings Road as it was a lot of money for one road and other roads within the township need attention. Hagerman said that equipment was getting damaged by the condition of the road, so repairing it was important. After some discussion, council dropped the amount from $95,000 to $50,000.
Regarding the 2.3 kilometre stretch of Weslemkoon Lake Road from Hwy 62 to Sutton Road, the council decided to proceed with it, while the back portion of seven kilometres of that road from Tower Hill to the boundary, they decided to defer until next year.
Bridger brought up South Steenburg Lake Road, a section of which called Moose Hill, needed to be rehabilitated as soon as possible. Hagerman had gotten an estimate from Danford Construction that it would cost around $32,000 to make the repairs to the road. As it would usually need to be tendered out, as per the township procurement bylaw, and perhaps have an engineer’s report done, this would take too much time as this repair was already long overdue. Since according to Clarke, the road was all but impassable, council declared it an emergency repair to proceed with it as soon as possible.
Overall, Carrol told council that the revised final budget would result in a 0.0004 per cent tax increase, effectively zero per cent. The budget was passed by council, except Bridger, to be taken to the regular meeting. It was subsequently passed by council at this afternoon meeting, with Bridger again voting against it.
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times