Perth budget sees 1.6 per cent tax hike
Perth Budget 2013.
Excellent! Coun. Judy Brown sizes up the budget numbers projected on the screen in the council chambers on Jan. 25.
February 1, 2013
PERTH- Perth town staff have been able to keep this year’s municipal tax increase to 1.6 per cent, with the town’s debt load going down.
“The staff did an excellent job,” said Coun. Ed McPherson during budget day deliberations on Friday, Jan. 25.
Getting to 1.6 per cent, and staying there, however, was not easy.
“Yes, we are using reserves, but we are able to replenish them,” said treasurer Lang Britchford. “It’s great to get off the debt train. It frees up money you can then use elsewhere. Unfunded debt is down so that it good…our reserves are in a good place so we are able to add some spending.”
Some of the savings that the town saw in this budget came from events like moving the fire dispatch from Perth to Smiths Falls, saving the town $110,000. Other costs were necessary to upgrade life-saving equipment, like the fire department’s $360,000 for a new pumper truck.
“We can’t pay for it all in the first year,” said Britchford, so an initial payment of $60,000 is being made in 2013, with the remainder to be paid off in the future. Other vehicles are less costly to replace, such as the $1,000 needed for a used golf cart for use in Stewart Park.
Some of the ongoing and upcoming fiscal events for the year include:
- Drawing up an asset management plan, necessary for the town to access federal and provincial grants.
- New OPP policing services, including first-year start-up costs.
- Waste water treatment plant efficiencies, including nighttime automation.
- Landfill site extension.
- Hiring of a full-time economic development coordinator.
- Continued work on Perth’s arterial road.
Some of the more nitty-gritty elements of the budget include $6,000 for the compressor at the community centre, which is said to be “on its last legs.” The community centre’s four lobby furnaces also need replacing, so they will be replaced, one at a time, over the next four years, at a cost of $5,500.
“They have done Yeoman’s service and need to be replaced,” said Britchford.
The fire hall also needs its CO detection unit to be replaced at a cost of $11,000, while the town hall’s boiler needs replacing at a cost of $180,000.
“It is terrible to ask staff to work in the conditions they have been working in this week,” said Coun. Judy Brown, who herself was wearing gloves for the first half of the meeting.
The town hall phone system is to be fully-automated at a cost of $37,500 to “create efficiencies,” by freeing up staff to do their work, instead of answering the phone.
Roads continue to be a major part of the budget, with $26,000 earmarked for the Wilson Street parking lot, and a major $930,000 set aside for the Beckwith Street project, which will see work done on the street’s water lines, storm sewer, street lighting, sanitation, and other aspects.
After a morning and early afternoon full of facts, figures and numbers, McPherson cautioned that the numbers were not firm until they were voted on by council in February, and that there may be additions to the budget – for a very good reason.
“The budget will change between now and June,” said McPherson, trying to appear solemn… “when we go to Ottawa for the Senators Stanley Cup parade!”
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