Second draft of 2020 budget presented, possible ratification in January
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Approximately ten community members were in attendance as Municipal Treasurer Christy McIntomney presented the second draft of the 2020 budget to council on Dec. 12, at the Sunset Suites Conference Room.
The presentation covered topics such as municipal debt, 2020 reserves and reserve funds, 2019 taxation revenue, annual grants and specials grants, 2020 donation requests, and capital budget changes.
During the presentation, the following items were removed from the capital budget: $160,000 public washroom facilities at Centennial Park, which would have been paid through long-term debt, $16,000 air conditioner at the Travel Information Centre, which would have been paid through reserves and reserve funds, $25,000 towards Sturgeon River Boat Launch docks (pending further discussion at Dec. 18 Regular Council Meeting), which would have been paid through long-term debt, $30,000 towards Sturgeon River Boat Launch parking lot (pending further discussion at Dec. 18 Regular Council Meeting), which would have been paid through long-term debt, $80,000 solar lights for boat launches, which would have been paid for through long-term debt, and $30,000 towards the Cedar Bay Road, which would have been paid for through tax levy.
The presentation of the second draft of the 2020 budget also saw council direct Municipal staff to achieve a zero per cent tax rate increase. Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance said Council decided to go with that direction due to how close the budget was to a zero per cent tax rate increase.
“Following consideration of the second draft budget, and in light of how close that budget was to a zero percent tax rate increase, Council directed Staff to find operational savings of approximately $20,000 to achieve a zero percent tax rate increase. Municipal budgeting is always a delicate balancing act. Council must consider the future as well as the present when directing Staff on the budget. We have done that to the best of our ability and I see no reason why the Municipal Budget for 2020 will not be ratified on schedule in January,” said Lawrance.
Council will have the opportunity to ratify the 2020 Municipal Budget at their Regular Council Meeting on Jan. 15.
Lawrance said this year’s budget process has been smooth to date. He thanked members of the public and Municipal staff for the work and contributions during the budget process.
“The budget process, which is similar year to year, proceeded smoothly and on schedule in 2019. The process included public as well as Council meetings. On behalf of Council, I want to thank the members of the public who engaged in the budget process this year. Council is very pleased with the diligent work done by Municipal Staff through the budget process. Municipal budgets must react to complex factors, including many on which there is limited Municipal control, such as: policing, social services, public health, Provincial transfers, property assessment, homes for the aged, and more. This year there were two very positive factors impacting our budget. The first was overall assessment growth in the Municipality, which is a sign of healthy local economic conditions. The second was policing cost relief that we were able to negotiate with the Solicitor General,” said Lawrance.