Mono maintains course toward 3.9% inflationary budget rise

December 7, 2023   ·   0 Comments


Mono council has some tough choices to make in inking next year’s municipal capital and operational budget.

Council began the budgeting process when it met Nov. 14. The final opportunity to review the spending plan will be Dec. 12, with the possible adoption of the budget Dec. 19.

Until then, council tasked municipal staff to put scissors to the document to eliminate more line items.

“We have the hard task of deciding what level of taxes our residents will tolerate,” Mayor John Creelman said.

Les Halucha, the town’s treasurer, outlined when council met Nov. 28 some of the increasing cost pressures the town needs to consider this year. Those strains on the public purse come by way of levies to conservation authorities, fire department costs, bylaw enforcement, insurance, and the rising costs of transportation-related activities.

With these pressures in mind and the additional loss of provincial grants totalling about $224,000, council will have to decide what to eliminate from the budget to achieve an inflationary increase of 3.9 per cent or $3,300,259 less than the spending plan’s current draft.

Some of the suggested ways to lower the increase would be to phase in or eliminate capital projects financed by the tax levy. Halucha said in a press release that this option is not recommended because some projects are needed. Funds from reserves for other needs could be used to pay for the needed capital construction.

Council could reduce or phase in budgeted contributions to reserve funds. 

Then again, Halucha said in a press release, council could just accept an inflationary increase that’s higher than the desired 3.9 per cent.

“What’s the wish of council,” Creelman said.

 “The simplest idea would just be to say thank you, Les (Halucha), could you come bring back another draft with $3.3-million less in expenditures,” Deputy Mayor Fred Nix said.

Nix said he’s being facetious, but there are a number of cuts he’d like to suggest.

“But my problem is I’m not a technical expert,” he said. “I don’t know where the cuts could be made.”

Projects like the gravel program for Cedar Lane could be axed, he said. Not pursuing that would save as much as $600,000.

“The world doesn’t come to an end if we deferred some of those (projects) for a year,” Nix said.

The municipality has to tell residents that it lacks the tax revenue to undertake all that’s wanted, he said.

“The bottom line is the taxes maybe need to be higher because last year we didn’t put them up high enough,” Councillor Melinda Davie said, and added that council will be in the same place next year as its tries to cover this year’s deferred projects.

Nix suggested council aim for a five per cent increase as opposed to the 3.9 per cent in the current draft. That would generate another $98,000 more in tax revenue.

Nope, councillors agreed.

“I had to try,” Nix said.

“Maybe we should gift a few of our roads to the province, just like Toronto just did,” Creelman said.

The provincial government agreed in November to take responsibility for the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway.

Coun. Ralph Manktelow suggested council consider debt financing.

“If not this year, probably for sure next year,” Creelman said of Manktelow’s idea.

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