SCUGOG: Council has decided to start up a new public works emergency reserve.
At a meeting on Monday, June 6, treasurer Trena DeBruijn recommended that a new Public Works and Parks reserve be set up to help the Township deal with future emergencies and disasters in Scugog. Last year, the Township dealt with a downburst, but were denied disaster funding from the province.
"One of the things that our municipality doesn't have is an emergency reserve. There's a lot of severe weather events that have happened the last few years and it was recommended that we start putting funds towards an emergency reserve," Ms. DeBruijn told Councillors.
She also added that if a disaster occurs in the Township, and the damage is less than 3 per cent of their own taxation, Scugog would be on the hook for all of the repairs and replacement.
According to the report, the emergency reserve would be funded by departmental savings, up to $50,000 per year.
Ms. DeBruijn said that the Township had approximately $40,000 left in its roads sanding and salting account, and recommended that that money be used to start up the reserve.
However, Ward 4 Councillor Wilma Wotten disagreed.
"To me, given the state of our roads, that should go back into our roads somehow," she said.
Ms. DeBruijn said that Council could also consider setting up a dedicated levy amount to fund the reserve, but that was not the avenue Council wanted to go. She also told Council that she is in the midst of working on a reserve policy that will be brought to Council in the fall.
"I applaud staff for coming up with a solution. Last year was a good lesson, when we had a budget that was as tight as it was and the reserves as low as they are, we need to put something aside for these emergencies," Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew said.
The Regional Councillor also made a rough calculation, and estimated that the reserves had decreased by over $500,000 since 2014.
Ms. DeBruijn later told The Standard that there was a decrease in the Township’s reserve balances from year-end 2014 to year-end 2015 of $221,226.
However, Mayor Tom Rowett clarified that point, stating that “you have to look at why” it was used, and added that the money could be spent in one year because the Township needed it for an emergency, or could have used it to benefit the Township later. An example he raised of the latter would be the Township’s $100,000 contribution from the Scugog Hydro sale reserve for their Municipal internet project.