Promises carried through

January 28, 2019   ·   0 Comments

AS FAR AS Orangeville’s new council is concerned it’s mission almost accomplished as they prepare to approve the first budget of the new term. 

Coming in at a 0.54 percent residential tax increase, it will be the biggest break local ratepayers have received in many, many years and, in fairness, it is one this council promised after its election back in October. It’s one thing to make a claim, it’s another thing entirely to follow through and produce actual, bona fide results. 

The seven members of Orangeville Council, as well as senior staffers at Town Hall, deserve a great deal of credit. It’s not an easy task to roll out such a minimal tax increase, as Orangeville’s previous council found out four years ago. Following former mayor Jeremy Williams’ campaign pledge to implement something of a tax freeze in the community, the 2015 budget called for a 2.4 percent increase to the tax levy. Not a huge amount, but not zero, either.

It’s important to note that no member of this Council ran on a platform of a zero percent increase. Rather, they were unanimous in believing there was excess fat that could be cut away without causing too much, if any, pain. They were, it would appear, correct in that regard, with close to $1 million peeled away. How will those cuts affect the community? In essence, they won’t.

Fully $300,000 of that money was earmarked to go towards capital expenditures and municipal reserves.  A further $136,000, to pay for additional costs relating to the council chamber renovations, will be covered by reserves rather than being included in the budget, while unallocated surplus funds will cover approximately $308,000 of municipal debt.

Of the projects shot down, Council decided against decorating the median along Broadway with new lights, while also choosing not to produce a new municipal welcome video.  A shame, we know. Elsewhere, Council asked that staff tighten its belts when designing a new website and redeveloping the basement at Town Hall. The downside? You won’t be able to take a shower after paying off your latest parking ticket. A crushing blow. 

Perhaps the only area that could potentially impact residents is the decision not to pave four municipal parking lots throughout town. 

But, with the project slated to cost in the region of $160,000, we feel you would be hard-pressed to find a local taxpayer too upset about parking their vehicle on gravel rather than asphalt. 

Perhaps the most impressive factor, though, even more so than the almost non-existent tax increase, has been the way Council worked together to achieve it. On several occasions during budget deliberations, members withdrew motions or welcomed friendly amendments whenever a point was contested. 

That was a far cry from what we have seen in each of the past four years, when budget talks would stretch on and on, largely due to the uncooperative nature of the council of the day.

It would seem we truly have ushered in a new era of fiscal responsibility at Town Hall. Our new council has talked the talk, now they’re walking the walk. It has been said in some parts that it’s slightly irresponsible, perhaps, for Council to push so hard for a minimal tax increase. Simply put, we believe it’s long overdue. 

Unless something drastic comes down the pipeline, a.l.a. a potential switch to OPP, we don’t expect this is a level Council will be capable of maintaining in years two, three and four. So, enjoy the break while you can!

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