Simcoe and Springwater 2016 Financial Budgets
We continue to review and work toward finalizing the County Simcoe and Springwater municipal budgets for 2016. Of your property taxes, approximately 36% go to the County, with 24% going to education and the remaining 40% to the Township. Therefore, both County and Springwater budgets have an impact on your final tax bill. For the 2016 County budget, staff recommended a 2% increase in the County portion of municipal taxes (it was 1.08% in 2015). I recently put forward a motion at County to find areas of reduction to limit the increase to 1% but this did not get sufficient support to pass at County council. Therefore, the 2% increase will have an impact from the County perspective of approximately a $6.00 increase in taxes per $100,000 of property value assessment. Main components of the County budgeted 2016 $449 million (M) of expenses include: Ontario Works – $84M; Long Term Care and Senior Services $52M; Transportation and Engineering $67M; Solid Waste Management $50M; Social Housing $40M; Paramedic Services $49M; and, Children and Community services $40M.
Springwater Council continues to review and process the Springwater capital and operating expense budgets. We had 2 day-long review sessions, which were open to the public, to review the draft budgets. Councillors are providing feedback and we will continue with this process, with the tabling of the Draft 2016 Consolidated budget at the regular Council meeting on December 14th, with the expectation to finalize the budget at the January 20, 2016 Council meeting. More comment will be included in future articles.
County Simcoe Waste Management
The public information sessions recently held, reviewing the process and recommended short listed sites for the Materials Management Facility (MMF) and Organics Processing Facility (OPF) in Simcoe County were well attended and resulted in good feedback and comments. There have also been many pieces of correspondence received expressing residents’ views on this matter. All of this is being reviewed by County staff. A day long County Council review of the waste management strategy going forward occurs on December 8th. This could have an impact on the MMF and OPF siting exercise, which is entering into the next phase of filtering and comparison of sites, with expected reporting thereon in early 2016. I will continue to report on the progress of this.
Elmvale District High School Funding Announcement
We are very happy about the Ministry of Education announcement of its support for $5.62M of capital funding for an addition to the existing school for facility upgrades to improve programming. Much exists to do moving forward to raise additional funds to the government funding, and to work with the Province and the Simcoe County District School Board to ensure the final result aligns with our vision of this. The EDHS Working Group resumes its meetings on December 3rd to move forward with this.
Progress continues working toward Fire Station 2 improvements. The RFP to engage an architect consultant was approved by Council and was posted online. Responses have been reviewed by staff and with the Fire Building Committee this week, resulting in a staff recommendation which will be reviewed by Council at the December 14th Council meeting. Also, part of the 2016 capital budget being considered for approval by Council includes a new pumper truck, support vehicle and utility vehicle for fire services.
After discussions and agreement with County management staff, we received a confirmation letter formalizing the County’s interest in potentially co-locating paramedic with fire services in future. At its November 16th meeting, Council passed a motion confirming Springwater’s interest in co-locating a Fire Station and Paramedic Post in Springwater in future and this was communicated in writing to the County by letter on November 24th. I will continue to work toward this goal.
The recent Springwater Volunteer Appreciation Night was a well-attended and fun event. It was great to meet and see many of the people who have volunteered over the years and see some newer volunteers as well. Listening and watching the interaction was heartwarming. Thank you for all your great work.
There are tree lighting ceremonies and parades coming up over the next month, worked on with the assistance of many volunteers. Council members look forward to seeing many of you at these events. See the Springwater Link in this paper for dates and details.
You have heard and/or read in this and other issues about the ongoing challenge of Mayor French’s 2014 election expenses, resulting in the Compliance Audit Committee, appointed by previous Council, determining that another audit (this time a forensic audit) need be conducted. This is a committee independent of the Township and Council and therefore not influenced by either. On Monday of this week, Mayor French, through his lawyer, served the Committee with a copy of an Application made to the Court for a Judicial Review of some of the Committee’s actions, which, if granted, will be conducted sometime in the near future. I won’t get into details or present my opinion with respect to this at this time. I want to assure residents that Council (excluding Mayor French) is keeping current on the process and the issues, in conjunction with the Township lawyer.