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Council adopts draft budget increase of 3.19 per cent

Mayor Robert Quaiff says his new council asked all the right questions to adopt a draft budget for the County with a 3.19 per cent increase. The 2015 increase is less than the 2014 increase of 5.5 per cent. The draft operating budget of $46.8 million, and draft capital budget of $10.5 million will require a net tax levy of $31 million. The 2015 draft budget increase will result in a tax increase of approximately $28 for each $100,000 in assessed property value.

“I am pleased that staff and council were able to develop a budget that addresses our need to maintain service levels while upholding our commitment to fiscal responsibility,” said Mayor Robert Quaiff. “Council asked all the right questions, a significant achievement considering we had only one previous Committee of the Whole meeting under our belt as a new council. This accomplishment demonstrates our willingness to work together over the next four years to meet the needs of County ratepayers in a cost effective manner.”

Budget deliberations began in late 2014 to minimize delays and support the rollout of capital projects in early 2015. The 2015 draft budget is to be finalized at a council meeting  Jan. 7, 2015.

Minimizing increases to the 2015 draft budget presented challenges due in part to significant unbudgeted dollars spent on winter weather operations last year. This negated the 2014 surplus available to apply to the 2015 tax levy – a benefit had coming into 2014.

The draft budget  includes an additional one per cent capital levy for roads construction and the majority of requests for community grants were approved. Draft budgets for Water and Wastewater Services were also adopted.

Quaiff said these budgets reflect ongoing financial challenges which include a lack of revenue growth, increased operating costs and substantial debt servicing costs. The 2015 rate increases were approved to include a 10 per cent increase in the base charge and a 7 per cent increase in consumptive rates. These increases are effective as of Jan. 1, 2015 and translate into an approximate $122 annual increase for the average household consuming 180 m3 (water and wastewater) and a $49 annual increase for households with water only service.”

Property tax figures for 2015 are to be determined once MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation) releases the 2015 assessments in the new year.

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  1. Gary says:

    Yeah, serious. There today, masks given at the door. As much as I wanted to visit couldn’t get out of there fast enough! Funny that the Hastings Manor a beautiful facility can run so smoothly with quality care. A “for profit” agency running our home for 18 months sounds a little off to me. Do we lack the skills to manage this long term care facility? Is contracting out cheaper? If cheaper does it impact service delivery? Have residents or families been informed? I haven’t been advised of anything whatsoever as the primary support person of a resident.

  2. concerned says:

    exactly Gary. coal
    and a worry about turning the water on.

    Oh to add to McFarland. ENTERIC OUTBREAK there now. and spreading quite a bit (1.5-2weeks). Wonder what the “management” or Shire hall is doing about.(nothing, they are onholidays) leaving nurses trying.
    They need to act like the hospitals with control.
    handwash, disinfect etc.

    Commissioner Susan Turnball where are you?
    and your Toronto team?

    I realize things go around long term, and contagious but its how its dealt with
    This infection shouldn’t have spread , if they have policies and adhere to them.

    I know someone that spent 1 hour there, and got sick.
    THis is Xmas time and some residents cant see family.

  3. Gary says:

    Good question Chuck. Christmas is over, would like to thank Council for the lump of coal they presented to Picton ratepayers. This Council has got off to a poor start. Contracting out management of our McFarland Home is a concern. It is always preferable to have quality local care giving as opposed to for profit companies ot of the GTA. Stay tuned for the next manouvers!

  4. Chuck says:

    Was it Finnegan’s dithering regime that also agreed to the outrageous fees paid for Belleville water? And who pays for that water?

  5. harry says:

    if people are complaining about the cost of water
    they should know that ever since Walkerton the rules have changed
    now we have all brass fittings marked N L for no lead
    these fitting are 40 to 60% more money that the same material last year
    new rules to protect the water system cost alot of money
    waste water rates are high also
    maybe people should take their sump pumps out of the santiary drain systems in their homes so we do not have to tread that water like raw sewage
    i see this alot in Picton
    try owning a well and septic system
    its not cheap

  6. Wolf Braun says:

    Let’s not forget the consulting fees on the sewage treatment plant. In fact 2 of them since the first was incorrect. Where does one point the finger?

  7. Gary says:

    Some good points Sam. The population of Picton is lower now than it was in the 1950’s. So in over the past 60 years we have seen zero growth and in fact a decline. And it wasn’t a Picton Council that determined a $30,000,000 waste plant that pumps dung uphill was required. It was the wisdom of a County Council. So the majority of the politicians that have no direct impact on the outcome of that decision were very much part of making it. And then when the infrastructure is shot the response is pay 50% more or whatever it takes. And how many ratepayers, perhaps 2000 tops. Madness! A recipe for a ghost town.

  8. Sam says:

    Gary, I do agree with your last statement. The system, as it is currently funded, is unsustainable. The fault does not lie with the rural residents, the urban residents or the tourists. As Snowman was pointed out, the fault lies with past municipal governments, both pre and post amalgamation. They underfunded the system to keep rates low until it became a crisis and then they delayed more until the cost of replacement was astronomical. Then they went ahead with a system of questionable design and high cost and high power usage. Now the users of the system (primarily urban residents and business owners, and to a much lesser extent rural residents and tourists) are stuck with paying the costs.

    The two choices that I see are that we pay for it now or we pay for it later. Paying for it now is the Councillor Harrison approach. Raise the rate by 50% and get it paid for. Ouch. Or pay for it later by raising the rate by 10% and keep paying high interest rates for the borrowed money. (Kinda like making minimum payments on your credit card).

    Although it is nice to think that we will learn from past mistakes and will do better in the future, we are now treating the environment issue the same way we treated the $#it plant issue. Avoid any timely action until it is a crisis and we are forced to make costly choices and then complain that it should have been handled better by past governments in the previous decade (or century).

  9. Gary says:

    I wish people understood the issues better. Those user fees are for water and wastewater and do not come close to covering the massive infrastructure costs. That is why another 10% increase now in place and a draw down from reserves is a band aid solution for a year. Don’t think for a minute that the true costs are being passed onto the consumers. Reserves will be exhausted. Would anyone suggest to their children starting out to purchase a home in Picton given the current and future unsustainable costs? Not likely. And interest rates are soon to rise.

  10. Sam says:

    Gary, again, what are the services to which you refer that are being used by all and paid for only by the urban residents? When the tourists come to town and use the water infrastructure they are staying in hotels, shopping at the stores and eating at restaurants. Those locations are paying for the water and waste water services that are being used. Those costs are then passed along to the consumers. The same is true when the rural residents come to town to shop. You pay directly for the services that you use directly. Tourists, rural residents and urban residents all pay for the services that we use indirectly.

  11. Gary says:

    It is not sustainable or near what is required for infrastructure Snowman. Thus the mess! Rural residents want a Town with services but are not prepared to pay the costs for that enormous infrastructure or the additional pressures placed upon it from outside. The logic being applied will eventually drive residents out of the town rather than encourage growth.

  12. Snowman says:

    Ya better check your facts Gary.If infrastructure and operating costs are not both incorporated intoyour monthly bill as a user, who is paying for that 30 mill.sewage plant?

  13. Gary says:

    You just do not get it. The cost of infrastructure is not incorporated into the user fees. Picton provides a hub for services to all County residents. Do you have thousands of tourists and other residents using your well and septic? I would guess not. Public use buildings are metered and paid by the broader tax base yes but that does not address the wear and tear and pressures on infrastructure.

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