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Councillors to host budget concerns meetings

Prince Edward County councillors will host Budget Concerns Town Hall meetings Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Councillors of Picton, Hallowell, Bloomfield and Wellington wards are jointly hosting a meeting at the Bloomfield Town Hall from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to discuss the 2012 budget currently being considered by council. Mayor Mertens and CAO Merlin Dewing will be present.

Councillors Robert Quaiff, Barb Proctor and Jamie Forrester will also host their meeting Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 7pm at the North Marysburgh Hall. Confirmed attendance by CAO Merlin Dewing, Commissioner of Corporate Services Susan Turnbull and Mayor Peter Mertens.

Council’s next budget meeting is set for Wednesday, Feb. 22 beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Shire Hall. The agenda includes presentations by external agencies, those requesting grants (click for story) and public deputations (2:30 p.m.)

Review of draft two of the capital budget, forecast and operating budget is to begin Wednesday, March 21. The budget is expected to be approved in April.

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  1. Richard Parks says:

    Gary-That has actually happened in The County. New assesment, growth, new homes, whatever you want to name it
    has provided over $4 million in new tax revenues to local
    government over the last 8-10 years, with almost zero population growth.So the demand for more/better services, has come from the same base of population.
    We should be the envy of other municipalities, because we’ve had a 2-3% annual revenue increase due to a steady,
    sustained increase in new buildings that provide tax revenue.New houses and cottages hasn’t fixed the problem over the last 8- 10 years. So, how will that change, to become the answer in the future?
    I disagree with Mr.Dowling (CAO). Higher wages for employees of the County while at the same time selling property and decreasing service levels to ratepayers is not acceptable.
    Being the Comissioner of a department in a small municipality of 20K people should not demand the same salary as that of a Municipality 4 times our size with 2-3 times the # of employees under you.

  2. Gary Mooney says:

    To SAB, it’s entirely possible that the CAO gets paid more for reducing staff costs. Or maybe he doesn’t get paid more, but does keep his job.

  3. SAB says:

    Of course the CAO is going to support the wages, the more the staff make, the more he will make.

  4. SAB says:

    After almalgamation, I had a number of employees tell me, “I am not doing anything different, I am just getting paid more”. Again I ask why the great increase in budgets. Is it possible that staffing & wages could be a problem? Or
    is that the County is trying to keep up with the big boys, with no or little industry to help with the taxes.

  5. Gary Mooney says:

    Richard, the 5K additional people would have to live somewhere. If they represented 2083 households (average of 2.4 people) living in $500M woth of new housing (average of $240K), the municipal taxes collected would be $4.25M (2011 municipal rate).

    If these 2083 homes were added at the rate of 10% per year, this could reduce the required increase in tax rate by about 1.5% each year, assuming that the extra cost of services were zero through productivity increases.

    Population growth wouldn’t solve the budget problem, but it would help.

  6. Martha Newbigging says:

    Last time I asked, a County resident could NOT sign out materials from Trenton’s library. I assume it’s the same for Belleville, so we need a local library. My concern for Consecon’s library is that it serves a community purpose. I see kids and adults using the internet, adult reading groups, as well as signing out books. Let’s keep in mind, youth and adults who don’t have the means to drive everywhere.

  7. Richard Parks says:

    @Gary Mooney: Poulation has nothing to do with Property taxation . We could have 5k more people living here with
    very little extra property taxes being collected.
    What the current situation shows ,quite clearly is that we as a Municipality will never be able to build enough
    new houses, cottages and commercial/industrial buildings to have any meaningful reduction on residential taxes.
    Costs are out of line with the available tax base.

  8. Doris Lane says:

    Most of the schools have large libraries and that is where children get their books
    Sounds like the new CAO has a good plan

  9. Myrna Wood says:

    The new CAO proposes to:
    • Put more power in the hands of managerial staff
    • Sell off lands, fire halls and equipment, Public works buildings and equipment,
    • Sell community halls, specifically the Wellington Town Hall and Museum,
    • Sell Bloomfield and Ameliasburgh library buildings and move collections,
    • Close Consecon library completely and sell the building
    • Eliminate citizen advisory committees
    • Review waste management and eliminate blue-box recycling.
    And he proposes Council vote on this plan THURSDAY, the 23RD. So that means no more community involvement in decision making that will affect us all.
    As far as the libraries go, I ask everyone to remember that not everyone can afford the transportation to Belleville or Picton, especially children.

  10. Gary Mooney says:

    Jack, you may be right that the County can’t afford to provide services away from the three “urban” wards, but this decentralized concept is the essence of what the County is all about.

    We’re primarily a rural, not urban, community. Of our 25,000 population, only 25% live in one of the three towns.

    For many years, there’s been a lot of grumbling that “Picton gets everything”. More centralization to Picton will just create more dissatisfaction.

    What we need is some creativity in how we maintain our rural orientation. I’m sure that our rural residents have a lot of good ideas and I’m hoping that they’ll offer tham up at the town hall meetings and that Council will pay attention.

  11. Mark says:

    We have a Commisioner of Finance, a Treasurer, a Deputy Treasurer, a Tax Collector, a Deputy Tax Collector, an Accounts payable clerk for the admin, an Accounts payable for Public Works, four (4) roads Supervisors. No duplication of work or services here! And it goes on and on. Do you think staff are going to present a preliminary budget that reduces staffing resources in their own departments? Not be thinking so. It requires an independent staffing review with no particular interest in the findings other than finding efficiencies.

  12. Marnie says:

    With all of the new construction in the county, one would expect that increased tax revenues would help to offset expenditures.

    Cutbacks need to be made in administration, as well as in services. A bloated staff is part of the problem. Raising bag tag fees is not the solution. The county once ran very well without so many managers. Also, why do we need the huge fleet of vehicles now owned by the county? Cuts should start at the top.

  13. Jack says:

    How many Museums, Libraries,Dumps , Sports facilities, Community Halls,,Special interest groups etc. can a tax base of half the size of the city of Belleville pay for? Something has to give other then the tax base. De amalgamation is not going to happen. We need safe roads, fire prevention, and common sense standards we all can live with. Centralization of services is essential. If you want everything just around the corner it costs a lot of money and I as tax payer cannot continue to pay for it. We live in a rural setting , this mind set of every little community deserves one of each is unsupportable. If the facility or service must be dupliicated, a very long look at how it can be self supported before it is undertaken. If it is needed by everyone we should have in the budget . If by a few then they must find a way to pay for it.

  14. Gary Mooney says:

    One major consideration is that we’re not getting population growth to offset cost inflation. While the cost of all services — e.g. roads maintenance — goes up by several percent per year, our population doesn’t (1% decrease over the past 5 years). So, with constant population, our taxes go up by a few percentage points every year.

    Although an oversimplification, if we get population growth of (say) 3% per year, we should be able to offset cost inflation of almost 3% per year, resulting in a minimal tax increase.

    Some people want to see growth in population; some don’t. With no growth, we’re either going to have a steady increase in taxes or a decline in services, or both. And the decline in services will likely occur in the rural areas not in the towns.

  15. Doris Lane says:

    Too many trucks too many people in the trucks.
    Too many buildings not enough use of some of them
    many supervisors, too many workers
    DO an audit or something and find out where the cuts can be made
    STOP SPENDING OUR MONEY We would like to have a little left to spend on ourselves

  16. Mark says:

    This municipal government needs to develop a long term strategy. All they are doing now is being reactive. They are talking about bag tags for god’s sake. Get to the meat of the matter. Get a multi year plan for roads. You build a new large arena and then are surprised to find out it costs significant dollars to run it. Hello! Get the staffing review completed and make the serious cuts that are required. Has anyone looked at the duplication in services and equipment by running Shire Hall and the Edward Building? What are the leasing costs for the Edward? Wasting time looking for pennies won’t resolve the issue. Think big and cut big. Don’t always run to the taxpayer.

  17. Doris Lane says:

    Elizabeth I realize that Amelisburgh does not get its fair share of new additions that are provided in the county. I was just suggesting that the two small libraries in Ameliasburgh and Consecon are uaually open a few hours a week and the cost of maintaining material for them is not cost effective. Since Belleville has a large well stocked library most people in the nothern area probably go there anyway
    In a perfect world it is great if we could all have the services we would like. All we have to do is look at the report Don Drummond gave yesterday and realize we have to cut out the unnessary things in our life and focus on what we really live. This is not a pefect world but we are better off than a lot of people.
    We just need our municpal, provincial,and federal governments to cut expenses.

  18. Elizabeth Globe says:

    Wow, Doris are you really that interested in alienating half the County? The People who live North of Mountain View are just as much a part of this community as those who live south of that line.

    Yes it is important to find places where the budget can be trimmed, but that should not be at the expense of the “northern half” of the municipality, because they live closer to Belleville than those is Picton.

  19. Doris Lane says:

    We have to cut some of the grants to organizations who should be able to function on their own.
    There is no money for things that are not essential to the residents of the County.
    We the taxpayers are the same people who pay taxes to the Feds and to the province. How does the County think that we can just go on paying for things we do not need
    We should be cutting staff and county workers and getting rid of some of the buildings. Do need all the libraries that we have?.. Would we not be served OK if we just had Picton and Wellington and the people in Ameliasburgh mostly go to Belleville. Let’s look at buildings that are closed for half the year—we should do some brain storming and come up with .some innovative ideas . We now have three arenas which we do not need—we need to come up with a plan to utilize the one not in use.
    I was sitting in a coffee shop one day and some seniors were laughing and talking about the way that council manages our money and they thought it was a big joke.
    Come on Council wake up and smell the roses and do something about our finances before it is too late

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