MAPLETON – Mapleton staff maintained a projection of a 2.17% municipal tax reduction at the second 2021 budget meeting.
On Dec. 15, staff presented a draft budget that was largely unchanged from the Dec. 1 meeting.
The municipal tax burden for individual homes would decrease by 2.17% in 2021 or about $10.33 per $100,000 of assessment. This means that the total municipal taxes paid by a homeowner per $100,000 of assessment would go from $476.39 in 2020 to $466.06 in 2021.
However, as councillor Michael Martin pointed out, Wellington County is proposing a tax levy increase. If that increase reaches just 2% director of finance John Morrison said the $10 reduction in municipal taxes would be eaten up by the county tax increase because it would amount to about a $10 increase per $100,000 of assessment.
“So it would be a wash,” Mayor Gregg Davidson said.
Davidson did indicate that the county is still working on its budget and many councillors would like to see a further reduction in the tax levy.
“There are proponents on the county council who would like to come to zero,” Davidson said. “
“That might be a little bit difficult.”
It’s difficult because the county needs to increase the tax levy by 1.2% to pay for the county-wide organic and leaf collection. Half the impact was realized in 2020, the other half will need to be included in 2021 to create a base budget that will pay for that service for years to come.
“It’s now a matter of what else we can whittle down to get things lower,” Davidson said. “We know that we have that 1.2% increase there.”
The county is scheduled to make its final budget decision at the end of January.
At the Dec. 15 meeting council opened the floor to community member comments during the virtual meeting.
One resident focused the public works budget lines featuring the $545,000 allocation to fleet and equipment for public works.
Council latched on for a fulsome discussion about how the purchase of that equipment would benefit the township.
Director of public works Sam Mattina said that his staff are already trained and excited to be able to use the equipment being purchased.
“My understanding is many years ago the public works area was quite large and there was a significant amount of work being done in-house and staff miss that and being able to sink your teeth into a project and see the results,” he said. “They’re excited about having the ability to do that and the potential to do that. It is a cost savings in-house.
“We will be able to effectively and efficiently complete tasks using in-house tools. Many times floating things in and out of a project cost money and the ability for us to move our own equipment around is definitely a cost saving.”
Martin asked where the new equipment would be used in the upcoming 2021 projects.
Mattina explained the excavator would be used for the 6,000m of ditching the township does and other projects such as storm sewers.
Councillor Marlene Ottens also put forward a motion asking staff to put all capital projects that involve roads, bridges and facilities to tender by April 1, 2021 and that council receive quarterly reports on the progress of the projects.
“The earlier we get these put to tender the better prices we get on the projects and the sooner they get started too,” Ottens said. “If we wait until June to tender and then the project doesn’t start until August and then we have to turn it down because there’s not enough tenders for it because they’re all busy already then that’s how these projects get pushed year to year to year and I want to see things happen.”
Mattina said it shouldn’t be a problem to get those tenders out before April in 2021 because there are many significant projects that are already shovel ready. However, he said he couldn’t guarantee meeting that deadline in future years.
“There are many factors that need to be considered, many steps to be taken in the tender process,” Mattina said. “There’s design, there’s engineering, there’s procurement, all of these things take time.”
CAO Manny Baron said that if it is council’s wish to get all tenders out by April every year, it’s doable, but it would need to be discussed further.
“Perhaps preferred vendors is one of them so that we can continue to use one or two engineering firms that we don’t have to go for tender on the engineering firm for each of the projects,” he said. “So if that’s the case the we have one or two that we can go to for each of the projects I think that’s a big proponent of kind of shrinking that timeline.”
Council passed Ottens motion and will further discuss the budget in the new year.