Northeast Town council tweaks 2021 draft budget

NEMI

NORTHEAST TOWN – The Northeast Town council has made a few changes to its draft budget ahead of the December 1 public budget meeting, and welcome news from the province, an increase to the municipality’s annual Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund of $41,000, also means good things for the bottom line.

In terms of capital projects for 2021, the sidewalk slated for Hardbargain Road has been removed from the budget and with it a savings of $108,000 (to have come from the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund [OCIF]); the planned Sheguiandah museum playground washroom will increase in size by $15,000 should a grant be found for that amount; and a study for a truck route that would bypass Little Current’s residential and business areas and would run from Highway 6 along Gammie Street (the street that becomes the snowmobile trail near the recreation centre), joining the lagoon road with the end goal of connecting with Highway 540 has also been added to the budget in the amount of $23,000 (total cost to the town).

The Hardbargain Road sidewalk was scrapped from the budget following detective work by Councillor Bill Koehler, who contacted eight homeowners in the area who said they weren’t concerned with having a sidewalk there at this point in time. Councillor Koehler noted that this savings could be used toward the $170,000 cost overrun of the Green Bush project.

It was also Councillor Koehler’s suggestion to create a truck route along Gammie Street and the Lagoon Road after receiving numerous complaints over many years from constituents, particularly those residing on Wilson Street, a popular shortcut for big trucks looking for easy access to and from both Highways 540 and 6.

With these changes, the total increase to the levy (the amount the municipality needs to operate each year) will be 3.04 percent. The breakdown of tax increases per ward is as follows: Ward 1, 0.23 percent; Ward 2, 2.34 percent; and Wards 3 and 4, 1.41 percent.

As has been previously reported, other draft capital budget plans are as follows:

• Municipal office: Garage door ramp repairs, $5,700 (net cost to town); cemetery fencing, $3,196 (cemetery reserves);

• Roads construction: Green Bay Road, dig out and rebuild, $50,000 (Gas Tax); Green Bush Road, gravel, ($37,000 from the OCIF); and Gammie Street study, $23,000 (net cost to town);

• Surface treatment: Green Bay Road, $40,000 (Gas Tax), Bay Estates Road, $40,000 (working capital reserve); Hayward Street, $25,000 ($21,000 OCIF, $4,000 working capital reserve);

• Drains: Meredith Street drain, $60,000 (net cost to town);

• Sidewalks: Draper Street, $105,000 (Gas Tax); downtown interlocking brick, $25,000 (net cost to town). (The Draper Street sidewalk was originally slated for the 2020 budget but was put on hold when the municipality thought the pandemic would cause a delay in the construction of the new Tim Hortons.);

• Public works: Replacement of 2006 Case backhoe, $170,000 (working capital reserve); public works sand dome, $350,000 (contingent on grant);

• Rec Centre: New ice plant, $392,000 (Municipal Modernization Program); air conditioner, $65,000 (Municipal Modernization Program); front walkway, $30,000 (contingent on grant); and painting curling club ice surface walls and tables, $20,000 ($10,000 curling club reserve, $10,000 net cost to town);

• Parks: Baseball field A outfield fence, $20,000 ($10,000 contingent on grant, $10,000 contingent on donation from Little Current Lions Club); baseball field light heads, $30,000 ($15,000 contingent on grant, $15,000 contingent on donation from Little Current Lions Club); pump track (a playground for all things wheeled) and skateboard park upgrades, $150,000 (contingent on grant); creation of a running track at the soccer pitch, $30,000 (contingent on grant);

• Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah: Entrance door replacement, $7,000 (net cost to town); purchase of one table and 20 chairs, $2,000 (net cost to town); permanent bathroom at museum park, $45,000 ($30,000 net cost to town, $15,000 contingent on grant);

• Library: Boiler, $10,000 (working capital reserve); and

• Spider Bay Marina: Pier 6 dock revitalization, $285,000 (contingent on grant); two yard head lights, $20,000 ($10,000 contingent on grant, $10,000 from Spider Bay reserve); replace washroom stalls, paint, lights and floors, $20,000 (Spider Bay reserve); hard surface road and parking area, improve drainage, $45,000 (Spider Bay reserve).

The total for 2021 capital projects comes in at $2,154,896.

To take part in the Northeast Town public budget meeting on Tuesday, December 1 at 7 pm, join the Zoom meeting using the code 489 313 1974 or call in, 1-587-328-1099 (you will also be asked to enter the code). (Note: For phone users, *6 will mute/unmute your phone line.)