Town Council approves $8.5 million of spending in 2017 capital budget

November 10, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Orangeville Council has approved a 2017 capital budget which involves a total capital investment of just under $8.5 million next year.

Almost 80 percent of those funds, or close to $6.4 million will go towards several infrastructure and transportation projects, with sizeable renovations of Princess Street ($2.5 million), York Street ($1.2 million) and Bythia Street ($525,000) pencilled in for 2017. Just over $1 million has been set aside for Parks and Recreation spending, $500,000 for environmental services and $220,000 going toward the library.

Speaking to the Citizen following the budget’s approval Monday night, Mayor Jeremy Williams said he was “very pleased” with the timely fashion in which this year’s budget was approved, with both the municipality’s operating and capital budgets now in the books after just three official budget meetings. In addressing Orangeville’s capital investments in 2017, Mayor Williams said he was pleased to see a number of road improvement projects take top billing.

“There are lots of interesting things in the capital budget, but the most important to take care of, in my opinion, are the roads and the sidewalks,” he said. “The Town of Orangeville is very fortunate that its infrastructure is in very good shape. I’m happy with the projects we’re undertaking this year.”

The Princess Street reconstruction project will finally see a faulty watermain beneath a portion of the road replaced. Town staff has regularly had to carry out emergency repairs on the line over the past few years, as it has been prone to leaking. The sanitary sewers along the road will also be replaced. On the surface, the road will be upgraded to “full urban standard” and will include storm sewers, curb, gutter and sidewalk.

The $1.208 million York Street reconstruction project is relying on a significant Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) grant of a little over $800,000 to be able to move ahead. The money set aside will go to the redevelopment of below-ground infrastructure as well as improving the road’s surface.

The most contentious items to be included in the budget are two brand-new $400,000 30-foot, low-floor transit buses, which will replace two existing buses in the Town’s fleet, as well as a new $200,000 transit transfer station. Council voted to approve a staff recommendation to relocate the transfer station on Fourth Street to the Westdale Mall on Broadway.

“The transit plan that the municipality has formed addresses a number of key issues we’ve been seeing with our transportation service over the past few years,” Mayor Williams said. “The bottom line is that we needed new buses. Our old buses were costing us $100,000 a year in maintenance; it just didn’t make sense to keep paying that sort of money on something that needs to be replaced anyway. The public are going to see a huge difference in the quality of our transportation system with these changes.”

A $640,000 three-bay garage expansion to the municipality’s operations centre out on C Line was also approved.

Elsewhere, council pushed forward a couple of projects that will be sure to excite youth throughout Orangeville. A brand new $100,000 skate park will be constructed at the Alder Recreation Centre, while an $18,000 aquatics inflatable will be purchased in an attempt to generate more interest in the municipality’s swimming facilities.

In a first for the Town, it wasn’t just next year’s budget council tentatively pushed through on Monday. They passed a five-year capital plan – something that excited many members of council, not least Mayor Williams.

“Taking a more longer-term approach to our budget discussions is something I’ve wanted for a long time, so I’m delighted that we’ve been able to finally do this as a council,” he said.

The plan calls for $41.8 million in capital investment over the next five years.

In a news release by the Town, Mayor Williams said he asked for a budget that represented no real growth in the Town’s spending and that’s what staff delivered and Council approved.

“We have continued to build our reserves, pay down the accumulated deficit, and have kept budget growth constrained,” he said. “After allowances for assessment growth, the budget is 0 percent real growth. The average tax bill will rise about $8 a month. It’s important to realize the budget is not what any one particular member of Council wants, but it is the best our Council can achieve given the constraints we face.

“I feel it is a good budget based on that compromise. This budget represents a number of firsts for Orangeville, including completion by the first week of November and a five-year budget direction. We aren’t where I’d like us to be yet, but we are headed in the right direction.”

Budget talks resulted in a decision to defer the hiring of four firefighters (at a cost of $358,208), to not include an estimated $50,000 for third-party analysis of OPP costing, to transfer $250,000 to a stabilization reserve fund, and to add a gateway sign ($27,000) and the Edelbrock Centre trail ($30,000).

Operating Budget revisions

Local home owners will be pleased to hear the Town’s portion of their property tax will be less than initially estimated, thanks in part to an unexpected increase in local hydro dividends and a commitment from the Province to help offset court security costs.

As a result of the late additions, ratepayers will see their tax hikes for local services drop from 4.6 to 3.5 percent in 2017. That equates to a new average increase of $95.89, down from the $126.44 previously reported.

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