Dawson roads board approves increase in fees-per-household rate due to contractor fee increase

MELDRUM BAY – All households in Dawson Township will see an increase in the minimum fees they are charged by the local roads board for 2021 to try and accommodate an increase in contractor fees charged by the Ministry of Transportation (MTO).

“The increase is due to it having been a bad winter last year, and the increase in the contractor’s fees to carry out snowplowing and road work,” Paul McAlister, chair of the Dawson local roads board, told the Recorder after the board met last Saturday. “If we happen to have another bad winter we could go through our reserves.”

The Dawson roads board discussed the final statement of receipts and expenditures from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 and it was noted that the amount of tax dollars collected from local residents totalled $30,000.19 (with a minimum fee of $50 per household) and with the ministry’s (provincial) contribution the roads board began the fiscal year April 1, 2020 with a deficit of $6,217.60. 

“As part of looking at looking at setting the minimum charge for local residents for the year, on May 4 Lee McDonald and Dean Martin, area manager for the MTO and myself, took a tour of the roads around the township. Our roads are in pretty good shape overall, but we talked about what needs to be done on our roads,” said Mr. McAlister.

However, “by the end of September, nothing had been done except for some grading and grass cutting had taken place,” Chair McAlister told the meeting. “I phoned Mr. Martin of the MTO and asked if any work was going to be taking place this year and was told no. We do appreciate the MTO and the contractor is busy and he (Mr. Martin) had told me there has been staffing issues this year and the contractor has had some machine issues, and that we are on the western tip of Manitoulin, however.”

Mr. McAlister told the meeting he then wrote the MTO on September 14 and on October 9. “I received a reply from Scott Middleton, senior manager for the MTO. He said they may not be able to get into area due to staff changes and t equipment issues. He also told me they will start their roads work here next year and go east from there.” 

“So, it is obvious there is not going to be any work done this year (on the township roads),” said Mr. McAlister. 

“One of the other issues that was raised is that when I became treasurer for the board, the cost for having the snowplowing done was $120 per hour,” continued Mr. McAlister. “Then a new contractor was hired and this price increased to $300 per hour. This is a big expense, one that we have never budgeted for before. So, something has to change a little.” 

Mr. McAlister suggested he would like to see a small increase made in the minimum set fee (to local residents from the current $50 fee to $70 per household per year). Currently the set fee $50 brings in $30,000 (per year) and the government doubles the amount they provide so the township has been running the roads budget at $90,000 per year and with the additional increase in fees this would increase to $126,000 in total. 

The board passed a motion to increase the fees by $20 to $70 per household.