Diving deeper into the 2023 South Dundas budget

MORRISBURG – A timely waste diversion transfer payment is providing a budget offset which dropped the proposed tax rate as South Dundas council entered into budget deliberations February 3.

Acting treasurer Lachlan McDonald presented council with last minute documentation showing a proposed budget with an impact of a 6.3 per cent residential property tax increase rather than the 7.66 per cent outlined in the original budget documentation.

Nonetheless, the budget documentation revisions are still in the works as council decided after one day of budget deliberations to hand the report back to staff directing them to come back with a document with an approximately 5.5 per cent tax rate increase.

Within the budget proposal each department has a number of key projects for the year.

The 2023 administration budget includes key projects with a budget value amounting to $87,000 which includes computer and monitor replacements($24,000), a $33,000 compensation review, strategic planning ($4,000) and a $26,000 VoIP system.

The council budget for 2023, like all department budgets, includes a 5.2 per cent cost of living increase to council wages for 2023. Although council was hesitant to discuss its own raise, calling the discussion ‘awkward’ when staff broached the subject at the January 30 regular council meeting, their own 5.2 per cent pay increase is included in the 2023 budget document without further mention. South Dundas chief administrative officer Shannon Geraghty confirmed its inclusion, in response to a Leader inquiry.

In the 2023 budget staff included $71,000 for council donations, a similar amount to the previous year. These are to fulfill community group and event requests. Since community requests amounted to $117,300 of financial support and $10,088 of in-kind requests, staff are working out how best to budget to meet community needs.

Another budget shortfall is for the Dollar for Dollar matching funds program.

Staff budgeted no money for that fund but there is a $49,000 application to that program. Since council wishes to fund that program, staff will have to add those dollars into the budget as they consider making adjustments to meet the 5.5 per cent target.

The fire and emergency service budget includes a new Fire Master Plan and proposes the replacement of one of the station’s pickup trucks, although that truck replacement was questioned, so whether or not it stays in the budget remains to be seen.

The public works budget contains a number of road improvements including: Marine Station, South Branch, Snowbird, Bongers, Markell, Seely and McIntosh roads; and sidewalk replacements along Dundas and Carman roads in Iroquois.

The environmental services budget for 2023 includes preliminary design work on a transfer station and clean up of the Iroquois compost site.

The fleet budget includes a new tandem snowplow truck, a pickup truck equipped with a snowplow blade and salt unit, and a new arena ice resurfacer.

The purchase of that new ice surfacing machine and the redesign of the new Morrisburg arena entrance are the largest projects in the works for the recreation department in 2023.

On the programming side of recreation, the budget works towards expanding summer youth programming, the creation of a community kitchen inside the South Dundas Justice Building and the expansion of the sports lending library.

The Economic Development and Tourism budget details a long list of projects and plans for 2023. Development of a housing strategy is new to this budget. Other projects include the continuation of existing initiatives such as the awards of excellence, pop up shops, the tourism app, and street banner installations. Employer’s council roundtables, business roundtables, council breakfast and business recognition certificate program are on the to-do list for 2023, along with a number of marketing and trade show opportunities.

In the 2023 budget, the municipality paused further contributions to the doctor recruitment reserve.

The details above represent South Dundas staff’s first attempt to meet the “ongoing challenge of providing the same level of service while focusing on maintaining, updating, and contributing funds to reserves while respecting taxpayer’s dollars and minimizing the impact on the tax levy.”

While staff is working on adjusting the budget to meet council direction, at this point no date is set for second budget meeting to finalize the 2023 budget.

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