WINCHESTER – It appears the 2023 budget for North Dundas will be one where taxpayers get what they need not what they want.

Mayor Fraser said, “When I speak about how I see it at our end, I said it is what can we stomach, and what can we stomach to present honestly and confidently that best serves our community, and best serves the desires, and wants of our community. We have to truly understand where we are, and what is acceptable to everyone, and what is needed by all.”

The rest of the council echoed the mayor’s comments citing the need to come up with a fair budget for everyone while being challenged by situations outside of their control.

The council will now begin looking at the details of the budget.

The 2023 North Dundas budget‘s first draft made its appearance at a special council meeting on Friday, March 29 with an overview of the budget presented by Lachlan McDonald, South Dundas treasurer who is filling in for North Dundas Treasurer John Gareau who is on leave.

The preview of what councillors will be working with, and no doubt arguing over, included all of the  “asks” for 2023 from all of the different departments at the municipality.

In his overview McDonald stated: “Given the current inflationary environment, senior staff have been diligent, and their assistance, and dedication with the preparation of this document deserves thanks, as do the efforts of our CAO in providing strategic guidance, and oversight over the budget process.

McDonald thanked Deputy Treasurer Michelle Dories who stepped up to keep the budget moving forward while Treasurer Gareau was on leave. He also mentioned the work Deputy Clerk Chloe Preston has done to help out in the finance department.

His introduction to the 2023 budget highlighted the provincially mandated items that the municipality cannot control that will affect the budget.

They are:

  • Provincial legislation has mandated training requirements for fire fighters at an increase of $157,520 to come from taxation.
  • Municipal insurance premiums have increased (in addition to the $169,000 increase from 2021). That increase will have to come from taxation and is $225,644.
  • Ontario Infrastructure Fund has decreased by 15 per cent. That will come from taxation to the tune of $83,143.
  • Mandated to offer the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement Systems, (OMERS) to part-time employees at a cost of $37,226 from taxation.

McDonald said, “In addition to provincial and insurance pressures, inflation has had an outsized expected impact on the 2023 budget.”

He said, “Insurance premiums have gone up considerably, I think it’s something that has been discussed at council before, but looking at it just from a regional perspective, it’s been 109 per cent over two years to your budget and that is a hefty burden to carry especially an inflationary period where the cost of just even doing services are increasing.”

He mentioned that other municipalities are not facing the same kind of insurance premium increases.

He warned the council that maintaining the current level of services the municipality has or adding to them may be a challenge as inflation, reduced provincial funding, and mandated costs result in either increases in taxes or a reduction in the level of some services.

There are around 400 km of roads in North Dundas that need looking after and the cost of the materials needed to maintain the roads when it is time to repair them has gone up significantly.

Most municipalities have made their network of roads a priority because residents need roads to get to work or for industry to continue to service an area or grow.

McDonald said in addition to provincial and insurance pressures, inflation has had a significant impact on the proposed 2023 budget.

Inflationary impacts include:

  • Non-residential construction building price index, (Ottawa), was up 12.6 per cent from the fall of 2021 to the fall of 2022.
  • Diesel prices remain high in comparison to pre-2022 levels.
  • On April 1 the carbon tax will increase to 14 cents per litre compared to 11.05 cents, (The Canadian Taxpayers Association).
  • Two 2023 tenders from SD&G Counties have come in over last year’s numbers by 28 per cent, (hot mix for paving), and 22 per cent, (cold patch). This is the process used to repair potholes in a road surface.
  • A total dust suppressant tender was greater than 20 per cent above 2022.

His presentation stated that a significant number of projects had been reduced or removed by North Dundas staff before bringing this first budget preview to the council.

The tax levy as the budget stands now, before councillors start taking it apart, stands at $8,240,945, which is roughly $1,000,000 more than 2022.

Mayor Fraser said the council would be discussing the challenges in the budget with municipal staff as budget deliberations continue.