Township offered public first look at budget

If the attendance and volume of questions asked at a public meeting here on Monday night are any indication, Guelph-Eramosa residents will be pleased with the township’s 2008 budget.
Only a handful of residents showed up to get more information about this year’s draft budget, with only five short questions asked.
The entire meeting, which included a lengthy review of the proposed document, was over in about an hour.
If approved in its current form, the 2008 budget will require $3,784,832 to be raised  through taxes – a 4.5% increase over 2007. However, because of increased assessment, residents will notice an actual increase in taxation of just 2%.
Councillors thanked staff members for keeping increases to a minimum while also offering increased services.
Reta Moyer particularly thank­ed Public Works Manager Ken Gagnon  for his work in securing several government grants to help offset the cost of replacing four township brid­ges. “I think he’s done an outstanding job and that ought to be recognized,” Moyer said. The rest of council agreed.
Questions asked by residents at the meeting  included:
– the possibility of including a sound system for the council chambers;
– why total wages are up nearly 15% (the increase was due to new positions, including crossing guards, summer students, and night road patrols);
– why costs are almost double for street lighting in Eden Mills (Gagnon explained the money is to replace old equipment); and
– why the budget does not include percentage changes from 2007, so residents can easily understand the differen­ces (council agreed that would be helpful).
Resident Keith Daniels also asked if the old fire hall in Rockwood would be demolished, at a cost of $25,000, as noted in the budget.  It has been pegged for demolition several times in the past.
Mayor Chris White replied that is indeed the plan, because real estate officials told the township the land is more valuable without the old building there.
The township is exploring the possibility of using the site for a much needed medical clinic, White added.
Also, recent wind storms have cause shingles on the building to fly off and scratch nearby vehicles, which can be­come a liability issue for the township, the mayor said.
Over all, councillor are pleased with the proposed 2008 budget. “We think it’s a very good budget,” White said, adding it gives the township “good stability going forward.”
The budget is expected to be passed at council’s Feb. 4  meeting at 7pm. Councillor Roger Knapp was absent.