Budget still stands at 5.85 per cent, deliberations will resume Thursday

MORRISBURG – South Dundas taxpayers are facing an increase with this year’s municipal budget, but what that increase will be continues to remain unknown.

Council members have sat through two budget meetings, listening, reviewing, and discussing each department’s financial plans for 2017, but after more than eight hours of analysis, the budget increase remains at 5.85 per cent.

In fact, the second meeting, held Tuesday, February 14, ended before council members could come to a consensus on the final 2017 percentage increase.

As per usual, deputy mayor Jim Locke suggested keeping the final number at a modest two per cent.

To decrease the budget by one per cent, council will need to cut $60,500. To bring it down to Locke’s two per cent, council would need to cut $232,925.

But, as chief administrative officer and treasurer Shannon Geraghty pointed out, a two per cent increase will keep things status quo and will not allow room for necessary upgrades.

Director of recreation and facilities Ben Macpherson, for example, is looking to make updates to several municipal facilities, as per a recent study’s recommendations. For some of these updates, not doing the work would leave the municipality non-compliant with mandatory governmental regulations.

Other updates, however, are in keeping with the province’s focus on asset management. Councillor Archie Mellan cautioned staff and council on making decisions solely on the basis of asset management planning.

“We get too hung up on asset management,” Mellan said. “It’s a great tool, but it’s not the Bible.”

Mellan suggested South Dundas should focus on what makes sense for this municipality.

Budget deliberations will resume Thursday, February 23