Amended Budget

On 3/18 Council agenda there is a report on an amended draft budget for 2019 and the 3 following years.  The amended one proposes a 2.3% increase (as opposed to 2.8%) on the township portion of the tax rate.  I think the proposal overall is reasonable although there are some individual choices about which I am not fully convinced.  Council is being asked to approve only the 2019 operating budget and 4 years of capital.   As was the case for 2018, if the assessed value of your property increases more than 6.56 % you will see the local municipal portion of your tax bill to increase more than 2.8%.  If it increased less than 6.56% it will increase less and may decrease.  I am interested to know what you think about this budget proposal; below I have provided some comments about the specifics. 

One category of spending of particular interest is parks. Our footprint of open space to maintain is growing.  From 2015 to 2019 there are 26 additional acres of active parks to maintain and 6 acres of passive.  There are 11.7 more kms of trails.  The budget proposes transitioning 2  roles to full time, as opposed to contract, for greater efficiency; and where the work is not full time additional contract positions are proposed.

The budget shows plans to close some of the gaps in our parks’ infrastructure but not with the urgency I believe is appropriate.  For example:  The Kingview subdivision (adjacent to the Heritage & Cultural Centre (HCC)) does not have a park; it does have access to the green open space of the HCC but it has no infrastructure except for a shade structure.  Budget shows construction in 2020.  I will be asking at Council if we can advance this.   The park in King Station does not address the needs of children; this is scheduled to not be addressed until 2021. Again I will be asking for review of the schedule.

 

Roads are consuming a great deal  of our spending in this budget as was directed by Council.  i)  Traditionally we have opted for maintaining the gravel road network as gravel. This strategy has allowed for minimum annual expenditure but an analysis of total spending over a period of time shows that it costs more given need for grading, additional gravel etc.  Starting in 2019 we are directing incremental $300,000 each year over next 4 years to conversion of these roads.  A general operating principle is that the “rural character” of the road will not be changed i.e. curbs not being poured.  What is actually installed will be a function of the road foundation.  I must acknowledge that at one level I am unhappy with this initiative as it will lead to more salt usage and personally I like gravel; but I am influenced by the cost analysis and the ever increasing traffic.   ii)  We are putting in the operating budget an additional $100,000 each year for road surface improvements.  We are doing this to ensure that we are doing maintenance as it is needed.

One of the new roles recommended is a Construction Supervisor.  The job exists and has been filled, to date, by a contractor. The increase in operating budget is small (<$40,000).  It will allow for Township to increase direct control over  construction processes including the various roads projects. Given how much activity there is I think this right thing to do.

In the Bylaws department the need for 2 additional roles have been identified.  The original budget proposal included one to be implemented in  2019:  a permit administrator.  The demand for permits is increasing, both because of population growth and because of new services e.g. parking exemption permit.  To achieve the lower budget this has been pushed back to 2020; in the interim there will be additional contract work.  The other new role is an additional enforcement officer to focus on parking.  This is not proposed until 2020.  I would like to see this sooner as I believe we need to transition to a much stronger stance on parking enforcement in the villages.  The parking study showed that there is adequate legal parking. There are a couple mechanisms for changing behaviors; one is a parking ticket for parking in the wrong place.

Spending on the municipal buildings for 2019-2022 is $60 million. Of that 59% is DC’s and developer contributions;  10% is tax supported capital.   This includes 19 projects including the new Township Recreational Centre, the King City library, modifications to other libraries, new floors and parking areas at various sites etc.  Its a great deal of money.  I believe the budget shows the plan for financing it responsibly.  (The budget documentdetails the various project; see tab 4)

In 2019-2020 the joint York Region/King streetscaping project on King Road (Dufferin to 2585 King Road) will be executed.  King’s portion is $8 million of which 22% is tax supported capital and the remainder is DC. (The spending is split between the two years.)  The project includes widened decorative sidewalks, tree planting, a multi-use path, banner and flower poles, street furniture (bicycle racks, benches, garbage cans) and street/pedestrian lighting.

There is $870,000 for various pieces of equipment for our Fire Services.  75% is funded by tax supported capital

As I have said I think the proposed budget is a reasonable one.  The spending and investments are justified; tough choices are being made.  I believe those choices need to consider both the needs of today and the community we are building for the future.

 

 

 

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