Each year, as the staff begin to prepare their departmental draft budgets, Councillors, Boards and Committees are invited to provide input to the finance team about new initiatives or wishes for the upcoming budget process. In response to that request this year, I have submitted the following to our CFO Michael Jeremy and it echoes what I have announced publicly at the past few meetings, wherever I could get the points across, about what I see as priorities over and above the standard capital and infrastructure projects that we must do for the good of the Municipality (roads, sewer/water, electrical, maintenance etc)
I am making those requests public so you can not only see what I am advocating for, but also so you can provide input to me (and the rest of Council) on what other strategic priorities you would like to see us pushing for in the 2022 budget. Please keep in mind that staff were originally asking for a 3.5% increase as a starting point (expecting that we would pare it down during the process) but I can assure you that we are looking at revising that direction to something far more reasonable.
Please take my Budge 2022 survey using this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QFJVL3F
Here is what I submitted:
I am trying to keep the “new” initiatives to a minimum but I have a few points for consideration that I will share with you.
- I would like to see us put in the approved splashpad in the Spring. I am working on funding from (a community group) again to help offset some CAPEX but it is unrealistic (and unfair) to expect them or any community group to foot the entire bill. When this was narrowly approved a couple years ago, the funding source was identified as a blend of community group money (to the extent that they can direct funds to the municipality for capital projects) and funds from the MPUC community initiatives reserve. I am certain that we can get some in-kind services for parts of the project like cement, electrical etc in exchange for sponsorship signage at the splashpad. I won’t get into the need for this and save that for the debates but since we deferred this for two years, and with outdoor rec so critically important, now is the time, in our last budget of the term, to get this done. The town needs to seek grants for this ASAP.
- I would like to see more user-pay scenarios and am confident David Denault (CAO) will bring us an exhaustive list to choose from. I suggest that we consider paid parking for non residents at the boat launch as well as non residents in Little Lake Park for the use of the splashpad. The key will be having residents register their plates so they can park for free in our parks and continue to use the boat launch. Enforcement MUST take place on the weekends to make this profitable.
- I would like to see the rest of the playground equipment for the overlooked parks done in the spring as well. Again, this could be offset with grants and the MPUC reserve.
- Andy’s goose poop sweeper / sucker should appear on the list as well so we can do something at the park, beaches and town dock as well as keep the downtown tidy. This asset will be busy many months of the year.
- Installation of physical barriers on the paths where we are most likely to see e-bikes violating our new bylaw. Since we lack the ability to actively enforce this bylaw, we should take steps to passively enforce it.
Those are the top ones.
Midland Bay Landing expenses should be slashed. No cruise ships coming next year… let’s defer that spending.
Thanks for the consideration and I look forward to the budget process.. our last one before the election.