BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
SCUGOG: Township staff and councillors raised concerns over annual cost increases to membership in a municipal insurance pool, after a staff report indicated that the township would be faced with a 13.79 per cent increase equivalent to $44,669.
The report concerning the Durham Municipal Insurance Pool came before councillors on Sept. 16, outlining the associated cost of the township’s annual membership renewal. The report states that the membership cost, which is drawn across the annual operating budgets of the township’s various departments, is subject to a similar increase to that experienced in other municipalities, but was more than the anticipated increase of 10 per cent.
The pool was established in 2000 with the participation of the townships of Scugog, Uxbridge and Brock, the towns of Ajax and Whitby, the municipality of Clarington and the Region of Durham.
Township treasurer Trena DeBrujin cited an increase in litigation against municipalities as the factor in ongoing increases.
"I wish I could say it was going to stop but we continue to see an increase of litigation," said Ms. DeBrujin. "The industry says costs will continue to rise – unless we can get a grip on some legislation."
Replied Mayor Chuck Mercier:
"We have this discussion every year," said the mayor. "We are doing all of that due diligence, yet we still face a 14 per cent increase from lawsuits."
Ms. DeBrujin added that while the members of the pool are currently sitting at a $5 million surplus in investment income, that money will not yet be put toward defraying additional cost increases.
"As a pool, we decided not to tap into our surplus, because we are not sure of where we’re going in the future," she said. "We’re still earning interest off this money – there was a vote taken at the directors’ level, to not touch this money now but to consider it in upcoming years, depending on future increases."
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