It is budget season and more discussions between South Dundas administration and council will have taken place by the time you read this editorial. After the first meeting last week, taxpayers were looking at a possible five per cent increase to their municipal tax bills. Deputy mayor Jim Locke suggested council aim for a two per cent tax increase. An attainable goal, but is this goal, often deemed reasonable by councils, a cop-out to simplify the task at hand, rather than to promote detailed budget analysis?
There was a time when councils in South Dundas only spent the increased funds received through growth in assessments. Growth in the community was the measure by which a budget could grow. We’re not advocating for that tactic per se, but we’re not advocating for the status quo either.
It has been said that South Dundas has the best roads in the county. That may be true, but we do not have the best bridges. In the last year alone, three have been closed to traffic. Director of public works Chris Bazinet recently told council that the approaches to all South Dundas bridges are non-compliant. That is part of the looming $5-million infrastructure deficit that is not getting any smaller.
The last five months have had the community preoccupied with saving the UCDSB schools here in South Dundas. All the while, the deficiencies in our villages continue to grow. The Morrisburg Village Plaza has heaving sidewalks and a dated look. The waterfront plan is stalled in Morrisburg. Sidewalks in Williamsburg, Iroquois and Morrisburg are deteriorating. What good are these ‘good roads’ if the communities they lead to are not in good repair?
Resurfacing roads is a safe priority for council to have. It is time to shift and have some balance. More economic development and renewal of non-road infrastructure in our communities is needed. Every council has pledged to deal with the surplus of municipal property, dating back to the time of amalgamation; a task every council to date has fallen short of doing. It is just as important for South Dundas to follow through on its recent proposal to the UCDSB to save our local schools. Following thorough takes money and a good balance of priorities. This is no easy task. Best of luck council, South Dundas is counting on you.