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Scugog councillors see proposed $11.9 million capital budget

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

SCUGOG: Scugog councillors got their first look at the 2023 capital budget at a meeting on Monday, December 19th.

In her presentation to the council, Scugog Treasurer Laura Barta stated this budget "focuses on future sustainability," and many of the projects focus on maintaining "infrastructure over the long term." But she cautioned councillors about a couple of potential budget impacts. "The Township is dealing with inflationary impacts and limited product supply."

However, one of the larger impacts on the budget will likely be the implementation of the Ontario Government's Bill 23. Ms. Barta said the impacts of this bill are not yet known.

With roads being a strong theme among concerns heard by councillors during the municipal election campaign, Ms. Barta stressed, "this budget focuses a lot on roads."

When asked to comment on the budget overall, CAO Ken Nix explained to councillors, "once you buy an asset, you have to take care of an asset."

The 2023 capital budget includes projects such as the construction of the Second Access for Scugog Island's south link, a Water Street rehabilitation project from Scugog Street to Queen Street, and a playground replacement at Roy E. Carter Park in Blackstock and repairs to the Blackstock Sand Dome. The total expenditures in the proposed capital budget equal $11,924,000.

Mayor Wilma Wotten asked the CAO to provide some background information on a Service Level Review project in the budget.

"We are wanting to make sure we are providing the right services to the taxpayer at the right level. We want to make sure we are set up as an organization to do it well and to do it efficiently," Mr. Nix explained. "In general, we want to understand our current service levels. We want to understand what the residents would like to see [as well]."

Ward 4 Councillor Harold Wright questioned why the Water Street project was identified for this budget when there are other roads in the township in worse shape.

"This has been on the books for quite some time," Scugog's Director of Public Works and Infrastructure, Carol Coleman, responded. "We base the [roadwork decisions] on our asset management plan. So, we're focusing our investments on roads at a certain time, to extend the life [of them] significantly without a significant cost."

Ward 3 Councillor Robert Rock noted there are a number of repairs or replacement road projects in this year's budget but not a lot of large investments in the roads in the worst shape.

"We understand we have had many roads [which] have been neglected for too long, and we do work some of those into our capital plan," Director Coleman said.

On the topic of an indoor pool forecasted for design in 2025, Councillor Rock said he doesn't know why the township keeps allocating future funding for an indoor pool. He stated, "as a council, we need to make a decision [if] we are going to actively pursue this."

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