Central Elgin Council intends to pass by-laws to adopt the 2012 Budget on Monday, May 14, 2012. CERA will be making representation to Council on the 2012 Proposed Capital and Operating Budgets at that meeting.
Central Elgin is one of the more heavily taxed municipalities in Ontario and has one of the highest water and sewer rates. Only continued roll backs of the municipal and county tax levies will pacify ratepayers in Central Elgin. Our membership and the public are becoming increasingly more vocal about this issue.
The following are highlights of the commentary:
Municipal Staff Wages and Benefits
There are provisions in the various operating budgets for significant wage and benefit increases. Considering the views of our members and the fact that the recent 2012 Ontario Budget included proposals for wage freezes for employees in the public service and amendments to the current public sector pensions, we feel that Council needs to exercise considerable more restraint with regard to wages and benefits.
Conversion of Street Light Fixtures to LED Lights
The proposed budget contains an allocation of $830,697 for the conversion of 889 street lights from High Pressure Sodium and Mercury Vapour to energy efficient LED. The proposal requires debt financing from a third party or the use of money loaned from the Rate Stabilization Reserve Fund.
Because of the need to borrow and the long time for the return on investment, CERA cannot support this initiative at this time.
Operating Cost of Arenas and Beach Facilities
We also noted an 8.7% increase in the budget for Parks and Recreation Department (2011 Actual of $1,389,064 versus 2012 Proposed of $1,511,163), much of the difference was due to higher general administration and office costs. We feel that more needs to be done to increase revenue to reduce the net cost of operating arenas, parks and beaches.
Notification to Ratepayers of Water and Sewer Rate Increases
On April 10, 2012 new water and sewer rates were established by Council for the next five years beginning May 1, 2012. Based on an average consumption of 25 cubic metres bi-monthly, water rates will increase about 8% in each year from 2012 to 2016 for a total of about 40% over the next 5 years.
Not only are our members incensed by this increase to the already excessive water and sewer rates, but we are extremely disappointed in the lack of proper notification of the increase to the users.
TO VIEW THE PROPOSED 2012 BUDGETS CLICK HERE
Council Meetings are open to the public – show your interest and concern by attending:
7:30 pm – Regular Council Meeting – Council Chambers, Elgin County Administration Building, 450 Sunset Drive