Wainfleet Council passes pragmatic 2020 budget

Township of Wainfleet press release – Wainfleet Council passed it’s 2020 municipal budget at a special meeting held on Monday, Mar. 16/2020. Building on the previous year’s budget and designed to address debt management and the infrastructure gap faced by municipalities across Ontario, Council continued setting a strong foundation for the municipality going forward.

“We knew that we would need to continue doing some heavy lifting in this budget to invest in aging infrastructure and support our Fire Department and our budget reflects those realities,” said Wainfleet Mayor Kevin Gibson.

For decades, elected officials have tended to respond to public pressure for lower taxes. This tendency resulted in artificially low taxes and, in some cases, zero tax increases which, however popular with voters in the short term, are proving disastrous as current Councils attempt to maintain their crumbling infrastructure and build for the future.

“Our infrastructure will continue to need very careful planning and fiscal dedication in the coming years if we are going to be able to close the infrastructure gap and get on board with our newly developed asset management plan,“ said Operations Manager Richard Nan.

The decades of low taxes have complex repercussions beyond simply maintaining existing infrastructure. Other issues also arise, including the funding for new construction, the current replacement of obsolete buildings and the raising of funds for future replacements of new construction.

“Many Councils have kept taxes low thinking they were doing a good thing, without realizing that they were underfunding capital projects and increasing the infrastructure gap,” said Wainfleet Treasurer Mallory Luey. “In reality, annually the Township should have at least inflationary increases to capital spending funded through the tax levy, an inflationary contributions to the infrastructure levy
to allow us to continue our efforts towards closing the gap, and then any inflationary operational increases. An increase below the rate of inflation will poorly position the Township for the current year, and years to come.”

Wainfleet’s 2020 Budget was expected by most residents to be similar to the 2019 Budget as Mayor Gibson had indicated to residents in his three ‘Town Hall’ public meetings held since his election as part of his mandate. Gibson, who promised “straight answers’ and transparency has spoken to residents about the need for what he referred to as “a couple of difficult years with the budget to turn the corner and get us pointed in the right fiscal direction.” Similar to Council’s first budget, the 2020 Budget is designed to raise an additional $612,999, which will not only cover infrastructure and inflationary needs but be poised to service debt, address infrastructure and put the Township in a stronger financial position next year. Also included in this year’s budget are plans to build a new Fire Hall to replace the obsolete Station 1 (Winger) and Station 2 (Wainfleet Village) as the Wainfleet Fire Department’s primary Headquarters. While the fire hall project
has been on the agenda of successive Council’s for over a decade, it is now poised to become reality.

“I have talked openly with many residents over the past year and confirmed nobody likes to pay more taxes,” Mayor Gibson acknowledged. “At the same time though, everyone I’ve spoken with understands that we need to get some of these projects going – like the Fire Hall. Every year we delay means increased costs. We could have built the same hall 5 years ago for 2 million dollars, construction costs continue to rise, each year the project is postponed, the price tag increases. Having said that however, some hard decisions in this first couple of years should give us room to ease up a bit going forward.”

The 2020 Budget motion passed by Wainfleet Council included $9,067,123 in Capital Expenditures, $5,308,960 for Operating Requirements and a $786,100 contribution to the infrastructure levy.

Overall, the Township’s budget is expected to cost an additional 48 cents per day for the average residential home assessed at $322,204. This amounts to $174.93 over the course of the year. Property taxes include municipal, regional and educational portions. The all-in impact is not available at this time as it is dependent on Regional tax ratios, tax policy and tax rates.

 

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