Mono council hears from Orangeville treasurer as it grapples with steep rise in fire service costs

October 12, 2023   ·   0 Comments


Mono town council hasn’t kept secret its displeasure at the steep financial increases to Orangeville’s proposed fire protection agreement.

Mike Richardson, the acting chief at the Orangeville Fire Department, and Patrick Kelly, Orangeville’s treasurer, appeared before Mono council during its regular meeting on Oct. 10.

Mayor John Creelman said Mono had asked Orangeville if the larger first-year monetary contribution could be averaged out over the four-year service agreement.

“One of the biggest issues for us has been the rather large increase in contributions to the fire service this year, followed by three more successive years where the amount is somewhat less,” said Creelman.

In June 2019, the Orangeville Fire Service Agreement was amended from a per-call billing to a flat rate. The agreement was for 2019-22 with four installments per year.

The revised agreement is for an additional four years and continues to be based on an annual flat rate.

The new agreement, which will run until 2026, has a 26.32 per cent increase in the first year for a $1,004,643 fee, followed by annual increases of 3.24 per cent or $1,037,221 in 2024, then 2.74 per cent or $1,065,687 in 2025, and 2.75 per cent or a $1,095,043 fee in the final year.

Creelman said the request to even out the annual contributions was made while respecting Orangeville’s need for a new fire hall. It’s a project that’s since been put on hold by Orangeville.

“Members of council may have some questions about that because it is quite impactful, not only to us but I think all of the residents of Orangeville and the other municipalities you (the fire department) serve,” he said.

Kelly said, in fact, the new fire hall project “is a go.” The town had considered two options: to build a net carbon-zero building or a more efficient structure that isn’t net carbon-zero.

“The town is going to build an efficient fire station for various reasons in regards to payback, the cost of a net carbon-zero building,” Kelly said. “But rest assured, the fire station is a go.”

It’s been designed and engineered, and Orangeville expects shovels in the ground in late 2024.

“But that still doesn’t explain why our increase for fire services [is] in the range of 23 per cent this year,” Creelman said. “Presumably, that’s even before construction starts.”

Given the late date in the year, Creelman said most of Mono’s contribution for 2023 has already been advanced to Orangeville despite the fee increase.

Kelly said the annual contributions from Orangeville’s municipal neighbours for capital costs have been well below what it should have been for many years.

He said it’s been shown through long-term asset management that both municipalities share many of the headaches related to escalating capital costs.

“We all know that capital infrastructure costs are rising rapidly and don’t seem to be going down anywhere,” he said.

Regarding Creelman’s request to have the high first-year increase averaged out over the four years, Kelly said he will need to speak further with Orangeville staff. He’s new to the job.

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