The Council met on the evening of March 10 to discuss the budget. Most of what was discussed was a revisiting of previous discussions from an earlier meeting with municipal staff. When the Council discussed the budget previously, such as at the meeting on February 9, members of Council, with feedback from department heads, clerks, and staff, literally went through each department, and each line, item by item. Two things became apparent to me.
First off, the Council does not spend your money with reckless abandon. Quite the opposite. On February 9, the Council really did discuss whether the roof on the municipal building in Mountain should be covered in shingles or steel. The budget included the cost for steel. One Councilor asked how much it would be to shingle it instead. No one had the answer, so that particular line in the budget did not get approved. Staff were instructed to go and investigate the cost difference between shingles and steel for that roof.
On March 10, at the Special Budget Meeting, the list of questions created at the February 9 meeting regarding expenditures was brought out, and answers were provided. Staff reported it would indeed be a bit cheaper to cover the municipal roof in Mountain with shingles, but the life expectancy of the steel is much longer than shingles. It is therefore prudent to use steel. All Council members agreed, and that item in the budget was checked off. I am not going to go through the whole list of budget questions they revisited on the evening of March 10; however, most questions were answered, and decisions made, based on the information that was requested.
There are a couple of issues they sent away for further investigation, such as the cost for a portable generator because the cited cost, and the designation as “portable” did not correspond. Another item that was not approved, but sent away for additional information, was the roof of the Joel Steele Community Centre and the Winchester Arena. The roof leaks both in the arena, and near the elevator. The cost to replace that is estimated to be $720K. Options were presented. In some instances, it is possible to put another roof on over the existing one. It will take an engineer to decide if this is a viable option. An engineering report is prudent given the high cost of the replacement. The Councillors acknowledged that leaking roofs aren’t good, but as one pointed out, it’s been leaking for a while, and it is uncertain if work could be done this summer, so the engineering report is a prudent expense.
The second thing that became apparent is that the Clerks are really good at finding funding! They have to find sources of funding, and apply for it. There is a lot of discussion about the impact on the taxpayer. During budget discussions, funding is sought from other sources before the burden falls to the taxpayer. Remember, your property taxes go to the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry as well as North Dundas.