2022 budget process begins in Central Huron with pre-approvals
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Central Huron Council dipped its toe into the 2022 budget process on Monday night, pre-approving a number of items to begin the process and ensure early tendering opportunities.
Before council could begin pre-approving items for early tender, however, Director of Finance Jeff Boyes said council needed to understand where the municipality is in regards to its 2022 budget. He estimates an impact of over $560,000 for next year’s budget as a result of annual salary increases of 1.5 per cent, the addition of new staff positions, an increase in the municipality’s insurance costs, rising inflation and the beginning of loan payments for the purchase of the former Bluewater Youth Centre building. Boyes also estimates an inflation increase of 4.7 per cent on essential purchases, such as materials and supplies and contracted services, accounting for $214,034 of the aforementioned $560,278.
Boyes told council that he was seeking a motion to approve over $2.2 million in capital projects, just over $900,000 of which would come from taxation. These projects included the reconstruction of Whitehead Street ($1,209,926), the reconstruction of Cutter Street ($573,418), road construction in the Langlois development ($66,000), work on the Dutch Line culvert ($10,685), work on the Main Street culvert in Holmesville ($269,664), a polyethylene water tank insert ($30,528), a grader mounted packer/roller ($15,264), a mailer folder inserter unit ($14,980) and top coat on both Park Lane and Princess Street ($41,074).
Before councillors began debating the pre-approval items, Boyes presented a taxation breakdown, as requested by Councillor Alison Lobb regarding taxation coming from rural wards versus urban wards.
In 2021, the former Goderich Township contributed $3,856,369 in taxes, while the former Hullett Township contributed $2,068,887 and the former Town of Clinton brought in $1,812,857.
Lobb was concerned that the municipality was spending most of its capital funds in Clinton, despite that community contributing less than 24 per cent of the municipality’s total taxation.
She would eventually vote against the pre-approval items for this reason.
Boyes did present some options to reduce the amount of capital for pre-approval, but cautioned council against trimming too much. He said the roads projects listed need to be done and doing them all this year was the most economically sound way to do the work. Many of the projects, he explained, would need at least some work this year, and splitting the projects between several years would inevitably just add to the cost in the long run.
While he didn’t want to minimize the impact of over $900,000 in taxation, Mayor Jim Ginn noted that, ahead of last year’s budget, council had to pre-approve over $2 million, so he said it was important to keep that context in mind.
The pre-approval budget also included $152,000 to hire a new information technology (IT) manager, though Boyes noted that any final salary figures would have to be approved by the personnel committee and, ultimately, council, as well as a few operating budget items.
The pre-approved operating budget items include $13,000 for the municipality’s annual community guide and $40,000 for its annual façade grant intake.
Council granted pre-approval for the requested budget items.
The next budget meetings are now set for February, 2022, with the roads, fleet and equipment, water and sewer, environment, and fire department budgets set to be discussed on Feb. 8 and the general government, building, protective inspection, recreation and facilities, cemeteries, and planning and development budgets set to be discussed on Feb. 23.