Northeast Town presents draft 2017 municipal budget

LITTLE CURRENT—The Northeast Town presented the first draft of the 2017 municipal budget with a bottom line of a 3.08 percent increase to the levy last week.

“Staff are very pleased to bring the first draft of the budget to council,” said Northeast Town CAO Dave Williamson.

Mr. Williamson explained that department managers presented him with their budgets and capital projects for 2017 and that he went through them with the managers line by line looking for savings. Then town treasurer Sheryl Wilkin consolidated the budgets into an overall municipal budget and they review the bottom line. “We again went through the budget line-by-line until we arrived at this draft to present to council,” he said.

“We are pleased to present a budget with a 3.08 percent increase to the levy, a sharp contrast from the previous year,” said Mr. Williamson.

He explained that the municipality realized savings this year thanks to no anticipated decrease in OMPF funding and because of the town leaving the planning board.

“Historically our municipal contribution was $39,000 to the Manitoulin Planning Board, but now that we are going to assume our own planning authority we are only having to budget $10,000,” said Mr. Williamson. “The way planning is set up is that the fee structure covers the majority of the costs.”

Mr. Williamson said that staff have reduced the budget to as low as they can, especially considering the three percent increase to wages, 12.3 percent increase to hydro and other costs outside of the municipality’s control such as policing.

“This is a very tight budget, but it will provide sufficient funds to run the municipality,” said Mr. Williamson. “I don’t know if any more can be cut with out cutting services.”

Mr. Williamson noted that the operating budget reflected $23,500 for donations, the same as last year, but that it also included the $10,000 from the McLean’s Mountain Wind Farm road use agreement with the town, which does not come from the levy.

He also added that $2,000 was integrated into the waterfront budget, also removing the costs from the levy, for the Great Lakes Cruising Club membership that was requested of council last year. “We are confident that if next year we match the number of boats that came to the Port of Little Current this year and increase the dockage costs for the cruse ships by $100, we will be able to make up the cost.”

The managers next presented the proposed capital projects to council. The projects included: the reface of the municipal building; repairs to the downtown cenotaph; road work on Cockburn Street to tie into Hayward Street; regrade and surface treatment of White’s Point Road, Campbell Street West, Rockville Road, North Channel Drive, a portion of Town Line Road, Bay Street and Gaidas Side Road; the purchase of a new public works 1 ton truck,  work to the Ashley drain, sidewalks on Meredith Street from Walcot to Sims Street and Draper Street West from Worthington to Hayward; a sand dome in Sheguiandah and a salt shed in Little Current; watermain replacement from cast iron; the lagoon upgrade; ice plant upgrades at the recreation centre and the dehumidifier replacement; arena and curling club light upgrades; the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah archeological site, educational display, signs and trail signs; pier three, five and six dock revitalization at the Spider Bay Marina and lighting upgrades; and new self contained breathing apparatus for the fire department.

Council preapproved the $45,000 expense of the new self contained breathing apparatus for the fire department so the needed equipment could be ordered.

The NEMI Taxpayers commented following the meeting that they were “cautiously optimistic about the 2017 budget,” but that “there is still a long way to go in the budget process.”