Billings Township council passes its 2015 budget

by Sharon Jackson

KAGAWONG— The 2015 Billings budget was presented in open council on Tuesday, July 7 from a motion put forward by Councillor Tom Imrie. All members of council (Sharon Alkenbrack, Barbara Erskine and Brian Parker) were in favour and it was passed.

Two public meetings were held leading up to the final reading: June 7 and 16. At each of these gatherings no major concerns pertaining to specific departments (i.e. fire, marina or public works) were brought forward by council.

A few questions were posed to Clerk Treasurer Kathy McDonald at the June 7 meeting in regards to how they budgeted for things like inspections. “This number is based on the number of building permits purchased for home inspections completed by Dan Osborne,” said Ms. McDonald.

Ms. McDonald brought some items to their attention such as the decrease in the budgeted amount for hard top from 2014 ($141,000) to 2015 ($125,000). The reason, as explained by Ms. McDonald, was because last year more was spent on loose top to prepare the roads for hard top.

Under salaries and wages $10,000 was added to allow for a three percent increase during the year.

Two thousand dollars was allotted to the landfill site budget in order to add to the number of summer students hired. “We need students on site more to get it (the landfill) cleaned up,” stated Ms. McDonald.

One of the annual expenses that council cannot manipulate is for the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board (DSB) which includes funding for ambulance, Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program and social housing. The 2015 amount is $384,994.

“91 Main Street is making a profit for the first time in 20 years,” shared Ms. McDonald. Last spring 4elements living arts moved into the upper floor which generated rental income for the township. Money was spent in the spring of 2014 to reinforce the structure. There are no plans for (improvements) this year, said Ms. McDonald. The Spot Fitness Centre is located on the ground floor of the building which is leased by the Recreation Committee.

The rental agreement has been renewed between the Township and Dave Hurcomb of Boo Bau Lou Candy Cabin (located at 156 Main Street) with a $600 budget allotted for the replacement of eavestroughing.

Five thousand dollars was added to beef up the fire department’s budget as the building is not in good condition, stated Ms. McDonald. The money is earmarked to be spent to hire a qualified company to assess the building to determine what repairs and upgrades are necessary.

Ms. McDonald asked members to review the budget as presented and “think about it.” A second meeting was scheduled for June 16 for further discussion prior to bringing the final budget to the public.

During the June meeting, Ms. McDonald advised members of council that there is a $65,000 surplus from 2014. After a lengthy discussion it was decided the monies be put towards purchase of a new four-wheel drive truck with a budget of $30,000 to $50,000 (to be tendered) and four AVL (automated vehicle locators) at a cost of $10,000. These units are currently being used in both the Northeast Town and Central Manitoulin.

Ms. McDonald feels this will be “one of the best investments the township could make.”

“The units, when installed in the plow trucks,” informed public works foreman Rick Rusk, “are an effective way to report winter road patrol. The basic Ace model will give us what we need,” shared Mr. Rusk.

2014’s budget was $3,565,700 compared to 2015, which is $2,717,838.00.

The 2015 budget is available at the township office.