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County launches 2013 budget process

Prince Edward County council began the 2013 budget process by adopting the water and wastewater services operating and capital budgets for 2013.
Considering the water and wastewater budget separately from the property tax supported operating and capital budgets represents a new approach to budget deliberations this year. Water and wastewater budgets were reviewed separately as they are funded by water and wastewater users.

The remaining departmental operating budgets for 2013 are now being prepared at or lower than 2012 levels.

“In 2012, the County conducted a significant service level review and corporate realignment process which identified many efficiencies and alternatives for the municipality,” said Mayor Peter Mertens. “As council reviews the 2013 budget we will be mindful of how these recognized opportunities can help us continue to move the municipality toward long-term sustainability.”

Fact Sheet – PEC Water and Wastewater Capital and Operating Budget – 2013
The 2013 Water Budget of $3,655,000 consists of:
• $2,389,000 of operating expenditures and
• $1,266,000 of capital expenditures.
The 2013 Wastewater budget of $3,129,000 includes:
• $1,887,000 of operating expenditures and
• $1,242,000 of capital expenditures.
The 2013 Water and Wastewater Capital Budget of $754,000 includes:
• $550,000 of water capital projects and
• $204,000 of wastewater capital projects.

The annual increased cost for the average household in 2013 based on rates effective January 1, 2013 are as follows:
• Picton and Wellington (Water and Wastewater) – $119.99 (8.4%)
• Ameliasburgh, Bloomfield, Hallowell and Peats Point $5.52 (0.9%)
• Consecon/Carrying Place $18.00 (3%)
• Rossmore/Fenwood – No Change

Challenges identified when preparing the Water and Wastewater Budgets for 2013 were:
• Reduced water and wastewater consumption per household negatively impacting revenue
• Increasing operating and debt service costs
• Aging infrastructure which requires ongoing capital investment
• New wastewater systems effluent regulations, which are resulting in additional administration and operational costs.

Long term operating and capital plans are under development to address the County’s water and wastewater financial challenges and to provide a plan for the sustainable delivery of these services.
A complete copy of the Water and Wastewater budget and the budget presentation is available on the County’s website

The 2013 budget review schedule is as follows:
Grants to Others – Wednesday, Feb. 20.
Capital Budget – Monday, March 18 and Tuesday, March 19.
Operating Budget – Wednesday, March 20 and Thursday, March 21.
Pass 2013 Tax Rate Bylaws – Tuesday, April 23 at 7 p.m.
All meetings to begin at 9:30 a.m. unless otherwise noted and are scheduled to conclude at 4:30pm. Additional/conditional dates and detailed information on budget submissions can be viewed on the County’s website.

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  1. m york says:

    Marnie, My point exactly. The sad thing is though is there is a County policy in place but they choose NOT to enforce it, WHY???? The total waste of money is shameful and no one seems to give two shits that its our money that is being flushed daily. Apparently another Supervisor was hired and once again he is NOT from the County. Yep, way to save money this whole bullcrap story of re-structuring,saving money,people loosing their jobs(mngt,) was nothing but propaganda on the highest level.People need to make calls to their councillor/mayor, oh wait we already have….

  2. Marnie says:

    Many years ago a family friend worked for the county. This was in the good old days of two-tier government. I recall that he had to rely on his own vehicle to go to and come from work. He worked for the roads department. Why have things changed so much that every worker now gets a truck and can use it for personal errands? Maybe such use of these vehicles is not supposed to take place but it does and even when the county is made aware of it no action is taken. Our tax dollars should not be used to provide half-tons for county employees. Let them get to work the way the rest of us do – in their own vehicles.

  3. m york says:

    My question is why are County vehicles allowed to be taken home in the first place as its unnecessary? I never in all my years of work was provided a vehicle to go to work. Hmm maybe every employee (non-mngt) should ask for either their own company vehicle or to be picked up via Council/Mayor in order to report to work tomorrow lol. It must be a perk for mngt. in order for them to stay here. You know I can just hear it now,
    “Yes Mr. Doe we would like to offer you a job here and by the way will pay you to drive to work, in our vehicle. Then when we give you your paycheck please don’t spend it here in our community because we don’t want our businesses to benifit, please spend it at your town as our town dosn’t need the tax base and our residents don’t need the jobs either”. Get your head out of your ass people…….

  4. Jo Anne Slaven says:

    A couple of weeks ago, we saw a county water & sewer department pick-up in the parking lot of the Black River Cheese Factory at a bit before one o’clock on a week day. We wondered what the heck business he could probably have there.

    These guys need to be restrained.

  5. Marnie says:

    When I saw that county truck I looked around at the stores nearby and saw nowhere that a county employee might be going on county business. Of course the individual might have been planning to visit Sleep Country.

  6. m york says:

    Marnie, This all came about when my wife were in Kingston at the shopping mall. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we parked right beside a county vehicle. We took down the colour, license plate, truck number and inquired about it when we got back. However come to find out when we would discuss it with others they to had the same experience of witnessing a vehicle anywhere from Kingston,Belleville,Napanee etc.. The sad thing is is everyone (MNGT.) is aware of this and choose to do nothing. So obviously we can’t trust anyone in regards to these issues because they don’t seem to care what goes on and that the taxpayers are having to eat these expenses.

  7. Marnie says:

    Last month I saw a county truck parked in the Wal-Mart plaza near Dollarama. Wonder what it was doing there?

  8. m york says:

    Just some information to chew on: We could (taxpayers) save a lot of money but for whatever reason they REFUSE to do so???? So I made a call as I as well as others have inquire seen County vehicles in Kingston, Napanee, Belleville etc.
    Their response, “Managers, Supervisors or on-call operators are able to do so and some do live in those areas”
    So my response was, “So your telling me that the taxpayers are having to flip the bill for these employees to drive back and forth to work on a daily basis”?

    So we continue to hire outside of the County when we have many individuals who are more than capable of doing the job right here in Picton, were paying these employees to drive back and forth to work,there getting a paycheck and spending it in their own town therefore not supporting our stores, economy etc., thus not contributing to our tax base,. So I have to ask where the brains is behind all of this?
    I then asked what the policy was on County owned vehicles and there response was,”I’m not sure”.
    I did later find out that there is a policy for this and it clearly states that NO COUNTY VEHICLE IS TO LEAVE PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY. HMM So once again they have a policy in place but choose to totally ignore it, at the taxpayers expense….
    If you apply for and accept a job in another municipality then it also becomes your decision on how you get back and forth. Why should the taxpayers have to pay this expense? Prince Edward County will never grow if we continue to throw money away, money that we don’t have.

  9. Gary Mooney says:

    So I did Mark’s work for him, and contacted James Hepburn regarding who pays for water used by County facilities and services. Here is his same-day reply:

    “All County-owned facilities have water meters and water and wastewater is charged on the same basis as if they were “public” accounts. These “utility” expenditures are included in the tax supported budget.”

    So taxpayers, not ratepayers, pay for this consumption, which is the way it should be, because these facilities and services are available for use by all County residents.

  10. Marnie says:

    Well, Mark, we tried to fight it at the time. County council voted down one-tier government the first time it was pitched. It’s a lot like the wind turbines and also the current situation with our hospital. We can kick and scream all we like but in the end government does what it likes and we are stuck with the results. One-tier government was supposed to improve services and save money. What a joke.

  11. Mark says:

    Once upon a time there was the Corporation of the Town of Picton. We paid taxes to the Town of Picton which among other things included road maintenance, public works including water, garbage collection, police, firemen etc. A portion of these taxes went to fund education and to the County who maintained county roads but not township roads. We were well served and fiscally responsible. Now Picton has lost it’s influence and the ratepayers have little representation at the County horseshoe. We used to elect a slate of councillors, deputy reeve, reeve and mayor. We had real influence into how our town was operated. Now we elect 2 councillors (that don’t have to live here)out of a total of 15. We have 2 councillors and little old Bloomfield has one! Picton has lost it’s voice and decision making in regards to the Town’s operations. Aren’t amalgamations great!

  12. Mark says:

    It wasn’t free. It wasn’t expensive but it wasn’t free as I paid for water in 1973.I don’t think anyone expects this service without paying for it. There”s a difference however between paying a reasonable rate and the outrageous fee structure in Picton. The scary thing is there is no end in sight. The municipality is in a real bad place.

  13. Gary Mooney says:

    Mark, I agree with you that the County’s water treatment ratepayers shouldn’t be paying for the County’s own use of town water — all County taxpayers should. Why don’t you email James Hepburn, County Treasurer, and ask him if this reallocation is being done?

  14. fed up says:

    We are a family of two—our water bill is usually about 180.00 for two months. When we moved here over 25 years ago, I we were surprised to learn that town water was free. I was not aware that this was the case anywhere in Ontario. Certainly I know my parents paid for their water in the 50’s. Not sure how far it goes back.
    I can hardly believe there are people who want every kind of modern service, but don’t think they should have to pay for it. Tax the tourists. They still get everything for free.

  15. Marnie says:

    Mark, I don’t think Picton will be the hub of the county for much longer.That’s clear when you look at the development in Wellington and see its new arena. The bottom line is that with our tax dollars we all pay for services we don’t need or use. Those events that you speak of at the Crystal Palace bring money into the town and county. Who knows maybe some of it benefits you indirectly. My best advice to you is to consider a move to rural Prince Edward.

  16. Mark says:

    Marnie, I safely assume that you do not provide water and septic to other rural residents on a daily basis at your expense or host municipal offices. Picton taxpayers are responsible for the operating and capital costs of the water & wastewater services the same as you are on your property. What I want to confirm is that County wide services located in Picton such as Shire Hall,Offices in the Edward, Town Hall, Arena, Library etc. that those water & wastewater costs are paid for by the general County tax base. As well any public location that rents space such as the arena hall that water & wastewater is costed in and directed towards that service. It should not be born by the Picton taxpayer. We may be the hub of the County but the rest of the taxpayers can’t ride freely on our dime. Water is very expensive especially when most only use it for cooking, washing and toilets. Most buy drinking water due to the smell,colour and taste of what we are provided.

  17. John Thompson says:

    Gary, the consultant only recommended consideration of the existing site which we did. He also recommended consideration of any technology which was offered by the bidders and we did that also in vain hopes of something better.

    Only one company offered a different technology but they would not accept the risk. Okatoks was found to be irrelevent as it was just a retrofit. In the end, he had no disagreement with the unanimous recommendation of the committee which included the current and former Mayors.

    In order to know that you may have needed to have been on the committee as I was or have asked someone who was. The past is the past so good luck with trying to re write history!

  18. Marnie says:

    Mark,rural residents well could ask why they pay taxes comparable to or higher than those paid on town properties when they have no water treatment and sewerage plants, streetlights, sidewalks or parks. If we want outdoor lighting we have to buy or rent security lights. If you manage several water treatment systems I assume you live rurally and must know this. There are inequities in the system but they apply to all taxpayers not just those who happen to live in Picton. Those of us living rurally do not get big tax breaks because we do not have all the services of the town. My property taxes have tripled since I first moved to the country and in talking with friends who live in town in comparable homes I know that I pay as much or more than they do.

  19. Gary Mooney says:

    John, with the ability to spin facts as you’ve done below, you should be selling wind turbines leases to unsuspecting landowners.

    It’s true that Concerned Citizens of PEC raised concerns about the wastewater treatment plant. It recommended a consultant who specializes in working for communities intead of acting as a shill for construction companies wanting to push infrastructure prices up. His advice to rebuild on and near the existing site, using newish technology, was turned down by Council.

    The new plant uses 60-year old technology and was built uphill from the old, resulting in very high electricity costs to pump s**t uphill before processing it and then returning it downhill.

    The new plant was overspecified by the original consultants. In 2011, it operated at only 55% of capacity.

    The original cost was hugely underestimated by the original consultants. As a result, government grants were substantially less than they should have been.

    After the new plant was approved, and before it could be built, the top three staff responsible for waterworks left the employ of the County. Maybe they knew what was to come.

    Concerned Citizens had researched approaches used by other municipalities and suggested several, including that of Okotoks, AB. In 2013, Okotoks’ charge for water and wastewater treatment is $82 per month, as compared to the County’s $129. I suspect that many people on fixed incomes could find better ways to spend the $564 differential.

    And the chickens have come home to roost. As a result of huge overspending on this project, the County will have to limit new capital projects for many years (e.g. rebuilding roads), due to restrictions on the maximum long-term debt permitted by the Municipal Act.

    All Councillors from the previous term ran for reelection in 2014, and many (including yourself) were not returned to Council, suggesting widespread dissatisfaction with the performance of that Council. The two major issues were lack of attention to the wind turbine issue and the aforementioned wastewater treatment plant. You, John, were on the wrong side of both of them.

  20. Doris Lane says:

    Mark and John have made some interesting comments. Not sure I understand the implications of all of this. The Wellington Times had a good article in which they said you will get a bill for water if you are away and don’t use a drop–Why?
    When Gary Mooney tells us we pay more for water and wastewater than any other place in Canada–that really upsets me
    When people from outside the town use the facilities that are County owned who pays forthe water used?

  21. John Thompson says:

    The capital cost of the required new Wastewater plant is reflected in the user fees as is required by law. The unfortunate part is that when Public Works had a tender for building the new plant, it was appealed by some concerned citizens who incorrectly thought it was too expensive. The result was a new DBO process which was quarterbacked by a consultant of their suggestion. The process was good and with the consultants agreement, the best risk adjusted cost bid was necesarily accepted. Unfortunately this doubled the cost to the connected users who are seeing this extra cost reflected in their fees and have a plant with less capacity than the original tender.

    The sad result from this appeal was not elaborated in the press which seems incapable of reporting that the appeal backfired. Any Councillor who was there during the last term would have or should have known though.

  22. Mark says:

    Marnie I am quite aware of the costs of managing a water system supplied by a well. I manage several. That is not my point here. It is about whether Picton costs are being allocated fairly. Picton is also home to the municipal government at Shire Hall and the Edward building (at high rent and duplication of services by the way). Both of these government offices use water and wastewater to serve all of Prince Edward. Now I assume that the County doesn”t pay itself for these services. So are the costs of these services that the Town of Picton hosts born by the County as a whole or are they another strain upon the Picton taxpayer. If as Gary states there is careful cost accounting undertaken then I assume the cost of these services are paid by all taxpayers. As well when rent is collected for the Arena hall, Crystal Palace, Town Hall etc. before this is deposited in the general account a portion should be designated towards water and wastewater to assist the taxpayers within Picton that are footing the bill to provide that service.

  23. Marnie says:

    Nobody gets off Scot-free Mark. Rural residents pay big dollars to have wells drilled and septic tanks pumped regularly. They also have to pay for their own water treatment systems. If anything goes wrong with any of these systems they have to foot the repair bills. Wells sometimes run dry and this means buying water, often for several weeks in a dry summer. This is not cheap. Also, lots of wells deliver hard water that leaves rust stains on sinks, in toilet bowls and on laundry. To correct this problem it is necessary to install a water softening system and regularly purchase salt. The idea of having a well drilled in order to save money may not be as economical as it sounds. We recently had to replace the pump in our well and it was a pricey fix. we also pay quite a bit for our water softening system. The grass is always greener —.

  24. Mark says:

    Well that makes me ponder what a user is. If there is a function at the Picton arena hall, Crystal Palace, Shire Hall, Town hall,library etc. that places cost and strain on opertaing and infrastructure. County owned buildings in Picton that are being used by the general public many of whom are not Picton residents. But Picton taxpayers are picking up the tab. Is that equitable and fair?

  25. Gary Mooney says:

    Water and waste water services (both capital and operating costs) are required to be paid by users only. There is careful cost accounting to ensure the proper allocation.

    I don’t know if it is permitted to drill a well in an area serviced by town water.

  26. Mark says:

    Marnie, I understand that and that is exactly why I raised it. More than Picton residents rely upon our infrasructure for services and place a strain on Picton’s water and wastewater infrastrucures. But only Picton ratepayers cover the capital costs. To me that is unfair.

  27. Mark says:

    Gary: I want to thank you for providing the research you conducted in regards to water rates. This is great information. As alarming as these figures are I just don’t know where it will end. There is no doubt in my mind that they will be looking for as much again next year. What is it that this County is failing in so many areas? A person making minimum wage would be paying 5 weeks of pay or over 10% of their wages on water. It is beyond me how they put food on the table.

    And Gary, in regards to Dayton’s comment is it legal to drill a well on a Picton lot? If so it wouldn’t be long paying for itself.

  28. Marnie says:

    That’s rather unfair, Mark. We all pay for services that we don’t use. I for one have yet to set foot in Wellington’s palacial new arena and I’ve never used your skateboard park but my tax dollars have helped to pay for both facilities. Some of our tax dollars also partly fund the cemetery in Picton but lots of county residents have no family buried there. We don’t get to check off some boxes and pay for only the services we particularly want.

  29. Mark says:

    Doris is right about people moving out. The cost to build and live here is discouraging any growth. Mertens says we need more users. Well skyrocketing increases like 8.4% won”t accomplish that. And how is it determined what comes out of the budget that is paid by everyone and what is user pay? Do Picton residents pay for a new roof on Mt.Tabor when it serves them no interest? Rural residents and tourists put a strain on Picton’s water and wastewater infrastructure but are responsible for none of it. I am not certain this is well thought out. Perhaps there should be user fees for any non Pictonian using our services that we soley fund. “Dumping Fees”!!!!!!!

  30. Dayton Johnson says:

    Anyone consider having a well drilled on their town property? Eliminate the chlorinated poison your forced to pay too much for.Or are there bylaws up the ying yang that say you can’t. Town folks are being priced out of the urban life without much choice.One good well could support 3 households.Share the cost. Time to think outside the box.

  31. Doris Lane says:

    Gary–good stats–why do we pay so much–they put the sewage plant in the wrong place, they had to start the filtration plant twice because they didn’t do it right the first time.
    I pay as much for water now as I did in the summer and
    I did some watering flowers then. Someone told me the sewage plant was not working properly because there was not enough sewage going into it.
    I am fed up for paying so much taxes and getting not much for it. I do not like to hire consulting firms to do unnecessary things.
    Oh well I am too old to move again or else I would get out of the county and I know a few people who would like to move out too.

  32. Gary Mooney says:

    A couple of years ago I researched water rates in eastern Ontario, all of Ontario and all of Canada and also looked at affordability criteria.

    In 2009, the average for Ontario, and for all of Canada was about $40 per month, which may have inflated to as much as $60 for 2013. Nearby, Brighton’s average will be $51 monthly this year. The County’s average charge in Picton and Wellington will be $129 per month in 2013, more than twice these amounts.

    And this is for for an amount of water that is only two-thirds of the water consumption in similar sized communities in Ontario. So, more than double the cost for only two-thirds of the amount of water.

    The County’s average combined water and wastewater charge is close to the highest in all of Canada — top 2%, maybe top 1%.

    There have been criteria established for determining the affordability of water treatment, with the threshhold being 2% of average household income. For the County, this is 2% of about $60K = $1200 per year. The County’s average charge of $1548 is way above this threshhold.

    The average charge for water treatment in Picton and Wellington ($1548) is now more than 50% of the amount of property taxes on the average sized property (taxes = 0.0118 x 240K = $2830).

    In summary, Picton and Wellington residents are paying more than double the average Canadian charge for water treatment, even though they are using only two-thirds the amount of water. This charge, which is more than half the average County property tax charge, is considerably in excess of the amount considered affordable.

  33. Mark says:

    These kinds of continued water rate increases are not practical. Low income families will not be able to handle the payments. I would safely estimate that a family of 3-4 would now be paying an average of $1,500.00 annually for water & wastewater. That not too long ago would have been their annual tax bill. And what will it be again next year. Where does it end?

  34. Doris Lane says:

    It looks as if we need to buy water to flush our toliets,wash our dishes etc. At the rate that I pay for water I could buy a lot of bottled water.
    I can’t understand why my water bill for the last 2 months wss the same as the one for two months in the summer when I did water some flowers.
    We do not need a green box plan–a waste of money
    It is time council spent its money on necessary things like water and sewage not consultants that are being consulted about unimportant things.
    We do not need to plow street when there is no snowand cut grass in the parks when the grass is not growing.
    I think it would br cheaper to live in Toronto.
    come on council STOP THE SPENDING

  35. Gary Mooney says:

    This increase of 8.4% was not projected, but could have been anticipated.

    With the substantial increases in rates over the past several years, it was inevitable that people would cut back on water consumption, thereby requiring more rate increases. This has happened in other municipalities as well.

    It would seem that our water services are a black hole into which we dump ratepayers’ money.

  36. Mark says:

    And so it begins again! Picton and Wellington Water & Wastewater users get struck with another increase this time a whopping 8.4% for 2013. And one of the resons is identified as less consumption meaning less revenue. So our systen encourages use rather than conserving in order to pay the piper. How can low income persons realistically take a hit like this? Why is everything in Prince Edward County from garbage fees to development charges to water & wastewater to God knows what else higher than any neighbouring municipality? What are they doing right that the County cannot grasp? The answer seems to be just keep going to the taxpayer. And let’s spend more of their dollars on a stinking green bin venture that few desire and fewer will participate in. The County is pricing itself right out of existence.

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