Northeast Town passes 2020 municipal budget


LITTLE CURRENT—The council of the Northeast Town passed its 2020 budget at its January 23 meeting and with it a slight increase in taxes, most specifically for the residents of Ward 2, Little Current.

After more than a month of deliberations, council settled on a 4.62 percent hike to the levy which means the following increase in taxes per ward: Ward 1, 0.09 percent; Ward 2, 3.12 percent; and Wards 3 and 4, 1.34 percent.

Capital projects in the 2020 budget include $2.2 million in construction on the municipality’s ongoing Connecting Link project which encompasses Highway 6 (covered through provincial funding and Gas Tax funds); work to the Green Bush Road, $484,000 ($451,718 through grants and $32,282 from the working capital reserve); a grade lift to Orr’s Sideroad, $20,000 covered by the Ontario Community Infrastructure Program (OCIF); surface treatment to the Green Bay road, Newby’s Bay Road, Orr’s Sideroad, Vankoughnet Street East, Dupont Street, Hayward Street and Red Mill Road.

Sixty-thousand dollars has also been slated for the Meredith Street drain project, from the working capital reserve, while $20,000 is allocated to repair the downtown interlocking brick sidewalk and $110,000 for the continuation of the Draper Street sidewalk (from the public school) to meet Manitowaning Road Under public works, $21,740 has been included in the budget for an upgrade to the town crew’s radio system, $380,000 (from the working capital reserve) for a new grader and $350,000, contingent on a grant, has been noted for a new sand dome at the Sheguiandah public works garage.

Under the environmental services header, $250,000, to come from the Little Current water reserve, will be used for a water main replacement in this budget. A lagoon upgrade of $3 million, $1 million coming from grants, $250,000 from reserve and $2 million from loans is also slated for this year.

Rec centre projects for 2020 include: a new ice plant at $300,000, air conditioning system at $65,000 and net metering system at $110,000, all of which would be covered by modernization funds.

The capital budget also includes $108,000 for the back parking lot to be paved (contingent on funding); $20,000 for work on the front entrance and walkway, to come from the working capital reserve; and $1,988,600 for a rec centre addition, $1,458,240 of which the municipality hopes to see covered by OCIP. The remaining $530,360 would be taken out in a loan. (The project would mean a 60- by 50-foot addition to the rec centre on its east side that would include an indoor play area for children and exercise space for seniors.)

Under ‘parks,’ $10,000 would come from the working capital reserve for the replacement of aging outdoor ‘porta potties;’ $150,000 for new fencing and seating for the ‘A’ ballfield at Low Island (contingent on Jays Care Foundation funds); and $20,000 for work on the Low Island washrooms, to come from the working capital reserve.

At the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah, $10,000 has been earmarked for archaeological site marketing, $28,000 for permanent washrooms and $9,960 for windows, all at a net cost to the town.

At Spider Bay, $250,000 has been slated for Pier 6 dock revitalization, subject to grant; the replacement of 20 yard light heads at $20,000, subject to grant; renovations to the marina office/washrooms at $30,000, to come from the Spider Bay Marina reserve; and $20,000 to hard surface the road, also from the Spider Bay Marina reserve.

Lastly, $50,000 was marked for electrical upgrades and landscaping stones for the downtown waterfront, to come from the waterfront reserve.
“I know staff has done a good job, but I have concerns with the 3.12 percent increase in Ward 2,” said Councillor Bill Koehler. That coupled with increases to water and sewer, he added, did not sit well. “I won’t be voting for it.”

Councillor Bruce Wood noted that this is the first year during his time on council that Ward 2, and not Wards 3 and 4, have had an increase.

“Bruce has an extremely valid point,” Councillor Dawn Orr added.

Councillor Laurie Cook said she had concerns with the budget, especially during a time of economic uncertainty, adding that she doesn’t think the municipality should have spent so much on capital expenses.

In a recorded vote, Councillors Michael Erskine, Barb Baker, Dawn Orr, Al Boyd, Bruce Wood and Mayor MacNevin voted in favour of the budget. Councillors Bill Koehler and Laurie Cook voted against the motion. Councillor Jim Ferguson was absent from the meeting.

“The ayes have it,” Mayor MacNevin said. The motion carried.