SOUTH RIVER – Creating opportunity is this year’s budget goal.
“It’s not a capital budget this year. It’s mainly operational,” said clerk-administrator Susan Arnold.
Taxes are set to increase by 2.9 per cent this year.
The Municipality is committing $6,000 to the discretion of the Central Almaguin Economic Development Association (CAEDA). The funding is to be used to stimulate job creation and build a stronger economic base in the area.
According to Arnold, the group isn’t obligated to use the full amount this year, but council has agreed to make that amount available in the budget.
Arnold said council is on board with the goals of CAEDA and that working with neighbouring municipalities gives the community the most bang for its buck.
“It’s just better when it’s a large group pooling its resources,” she said.
Youth recreation also ranks high this year with the Village and Machar Township each allocating a $1,500 contribution to local sports teams. The municipal funding helps keep participation fees at a minimum, allowing more kids the opportunity to get involved in physical activity and the community.
According to Arnold, there are already more than 100 kids signed up to play soccer this year.
Along with being a budget item, local sports are also a revenue stream for the municipality, which rents its arena to the Hockey Opportunity Camp over the summer months.
“It’s been a very successful partnership for many, many years,” said Arnold, noting various community and private groups rent the arena throughout the year, making it a great asset.
The municipality has purchased a new dump truck at a cost of $161,608. The truck was paid for using reserves previously set aside for that purpose.
According to treasurer Sherri Hawthorne, the municipality met its goal of an increase of about three per cent in order to stay in line with inflation rates.
With just over 500 households to draw from, Hawthorne said the municipality relies heavily on government grants, including those helping to pay for the installation of water meters at no cost to the taxpayer.
As Hawthorne explained, the grant process for the meters is the same payment process as with most grants with each the federal government, the province, and the municipality paying one third of the cost. In the case of the water meters, the municipality’s third is being paid for using gas tax funds.
Council has agreed to install the meters this year, but won’t be using the metered rates for billing until sometime next year. Over the course of this year, the usage numbers will be collected as research tools to help determine an appropriate fee structure for the following year.
According to staff, the municipality would like to replace its water mains, which were installed in the 1950s, as well as do some road repaving, which will be done at the same time to save money.
“We’re trying to build up our reserves so when a grant becomes available, we’re ready to act,” said Arnold. “We don’t have a lot of water main breaks, so we’re fortunate in that regard.”
Arnold said the project is by no means an emergency. But the municipality is preparing for inevitable future capital costs.