Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Working on Your Budgets

Much of my time lately has been spent working on budgets both for Pelham and for the Region.

In mid-January, I was honoured to have been elected Chair of the Region’s Budget Review Committee. The Committee has since met four times to examine the Region’s Capital and Operating budgets and the Water and Waste Water budgets. Councillors also deliberated over budgets of the Region’s five departments and five outside Boards & Agencies in greater detail at special committee meetings. The Region also hosted a public consultation forum in early February.

Despite that work, the Region’s budget is still a work in progress; we are scheduled, however, to approve most of the Region’s budgets on Thursday, March 3 at Regional Council.

Most of Pelham’s budgets are also a work in progress. For example, we examined the Town’s Operating Budget during a special committee meeting on February 28; we will debate the Town’s Water and Waste Water budgets on March 7.

However, Pelham Council did approve the 2011 Capital Budget on February 22.

You will recall that a capital budget plans for the acquisition or rehabilitation of major infrastructure and equipment that have a long life. Such capital assets include municipal buildings, arenas, trucks and vehicles, roads and sidewalks, and water/sewerage pipes.

(In contrast, the operating budget provides for the “day-to-day” expenditures such as salaries, wages, benefits, heat, hydro, and routine maintenance of buildings and infrastructure.)

Your Town’s $4.6 million Capital Budget will fund many improvements, such as:
• A new pumper truck to replace a 1994 smaller pumper at Fire Station #3 and to provide better rural service;
• $1.2 million of road reconstruction including Effingham Road from Sixteen to Kilman; Foss Road from Effingham to Poth; Chantler Road from Balfour to Poth; and Sumbler west of Church Street;
• $525,000 of road resurfacing including Lorimer Street from Hurricane to Station; Brookbank Crescent; Quaker Road from Welland to Haist; River Road from Cream to Farr and east of Effingham;
• Parks and Recreation investments like ball diamond grooming equipment, new soccer shelters for Harold Black Park, court resurfacing at the Arena and North Pelham Parks, renovations to Old Town Hall, and a master plan for landscaping Peace Park;
• Replacing old vehicles including a 1993 5-tonne truck, a 1999 half-ton pick-up truck, and a 1998 mower;
• Completing the East Fonthill Secondary Plan and Town Official Plan; and
• Rebalancing capital reserves from the unprecedented work over the last couple of years.

I will continue to keep you informed of progress on these 2011 Budgets in future columns.