Finance committee takes on 2013 budget

BARRY’S BAY – Madawaska Valley Township met for their finance committee meeting on March 26 and March 27.

On March 26, finance committee members for the Township of Madawaska Valley gathered to crunch numbers.
It’s budget time again – but this year, things are a little more complicated, committee members agreed.
A lot of cuts had to take place to get the tax rate down to a realistic increase, Chairwoman Linda Neuman said. With several department requests and before any cuts made, taxation rates would increase nearly 18 per cent on the average residential assessment.
“I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this is an unrealistic increase…”
Council this year also had a dramatic increase in policing costs, of about $75,000 and a reduction of about $900 in regards to their Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund Revenue to deal with, which didn’t help to make things any easier, Neuman explained. What’s more, these costs are entirely out of the council’s control, she continued.
Several other requests would also contribute to a high budget. For instance, a review of township operations is scheduled to take place this year, which will hopefully uncover new, or improved methods of delivering services in more cost effective manners. About $40,000 for this review will be taken out of the working reserve.
Council also decided to make the animal control officer/bylaw enforcement officer and septic system inspector position full-time on a one-year trial. Nearly $34,000 will be budgeted for the 2013 to pay someone for this position.
A new recreation co-ordinator also increased budget numbers by about $30,000.
The increasingly rising costs for goods and services, and internal pressures to achieve such goals, and complete projects within various departments, and public demands are also reflected in this budget, Neuman said.
Over the course of two days, from March 26 to March 27, committee members went over two lists in the attempt to lower tax rates for community members. The first list, was the draft budget compiled by staff, providing suggestions for reductions totalling, $321,400. Staff then went on to discuss additional ideas for reductions, until they arrived at a budget levy they felt was appropriate.
On the Wednesday, after several reductions throughout various departments, the committee recommended council accept the 2013 municipal levy requirement of $3,505,445. The average residential assessment would increase about three per cent, or about $22.66.
Several staff members, including councillors would take cuts of about 30 per cent. Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre salaries would also be reduced from about $71,000 to $56,000.
Contributions to the roads and equipment replacement reserve will be reduced from $110,000 to $40,000 to offset other road construction costs.
Barry’s Bay & Area Public Library will also take a $3,002 cut in funding.
The purchase of a used paver is anticipated to help reduce the costs of road projects as well. CAO, Bryan Brown presented the committee with a report outlining the purchase of the paver that would help reduce costs by as much as $25,300.
In addition, there will be less hanging flowerpots in town this year, as parks, materials and supplies expenses were reduced from about $3,500 to $2,700.
The finance committee also recommended that the following water rate per cubic metre be adopted at $4.41 and the wastewater rate per cubic metre be adopted at $4.17.
For more information pertaining to reductions, contact the Madawaska Valley Township.

Story continues in the April 3, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.