DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: Council gave pre-approval for the majority of capital expenditures in the 2016 budget at a special council meeting on Monday, Dec. 7.
At the meeting, councillors approved a total capital budget of about $9.1 million. Mayor Tom Rowett said that the capital side of the budget required separate approval because the township wants to have these projects out to the market as soon as possible.
“The reason that the capital needs a pre-approval is because we can have cost savings by getting out bigger projects such as road projects by having (request for proposals) out before the contractors fill up,” he said.
Interim CAO Don Gordon said that one of the goals of the capital budget process was to limit the amount of projects funded by the levy.
However, discussions on township sidewalks was deferred to operating budget deliberations in the new year. Also, a report on the township’s LED conversion project is expected to be introduced at council’s next regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 14 on whether or not staff finds that they would be able to do it in 2016.
“We can always introduce it later on in the year, but it would be nice to have that decision made because it is either going to be a shared retrofit from a provider that shares in the savings or we can put the capital outlay out from our reserve or a debenture,” Mayor Rowett said.
As well, due to a lack of a funding source, the township deferred road work on Crandell St., Mckee Rd., McLaughlin Rd., as well as the urbanization of Old Simcoe Rd. to 2017. Work on the Scugog-Manvers boundary was also deferred.
The decisions left Ward 2 councillor Janna Guido wondering if the Crandell St. project was safe to defer in the condition that it is currently in.
“I was under the impression that underneath Crandell St. is in pretty urgent need of repair. Is it okay to defer it to 2017?” she asked.
Director of Public Works and Parks Glen Smith responded to the question about deferring repairs to Crandell St., saying that deferrals are a common municipal budget decision.
“There is no real guess to when it will fail, it hasn’t failed to this point. It is strictly a monetary decision,” he said.
Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew asked how Old Simcoe Rd. went from being a priority, to being deferred.
“Was this strictly for budget reasons, because this was priority number 5 earlier and now it has completely dropped and there are items further down the line that have been bumped up,” she asked.
Treasurer Trena Debruijn noted that there was simply no source that the township could use to fund the project.
“We couldn’t find a funding source for this, unless we were willing to go to the debenture market, so staff decided on that basis to defer it,” she said.
Mayor Rowett said that he hopes that grants from the federal government will become available to the township for their road repairs.
"The federal government was very vocal on providing extra infrastructure funding to municipalities. Us as a greenbelt community, we have such a vast road network that is in a deficit and we don't have the means to tackle even a small chunk of it," commented Mayor Rowett. "Without help from the upper levels of government, there is a very little bit of traction that can be made.
To help create a funding source for future projects, the township has instituted a roads reserve, which was approved a few years ago, of 1 per cent from the levy.
Ward 4 Councillor Wilma Wotten questioned if the township was comfortable going forward with the amount in the reserves.
Treasurer Debruijn responded, saying that despite the lower level of the reserves, the level is where it should be.
“We are reducing our reserves. They have come down a lot in prior years yes, but it is in line with where it was at last year,” the director of finance said.