Sunday, January 23, 2011

Midland Budget 2011

This Monday Midland Council should pass its 2011 budget. If it goes through as presented it will contain a Town tax rate increase of 2% which when combined with the County taxes should result in a bottom line residential increase of about 1.7%.  This will be the lowest annual increase that I have seen in my five years on Midland Council.

While this appears to be a good outcome for Midland taxpayers, it does not come to grips with the major financial issue facing Midland – our escalating cost of service delivery. The Corporation of the Town of Midland is a “service organization”.  It provides services to its citizens – hockey arenas, snow plowing, public parks and many others. Increasing regulatory requirements from the province, increasing service level needs from our citizens and wage inflation are causing our operating costs to grow by over 5% per year. As you can appreciate if your costs are growing by 5%, it sets the tone for all other budget discussions.

The revenue side of the equation is also of concern.  Midland has been fortunate over the last few years to have received millions of dollars in “infrastructure grants”.  And while these have been welcomed, they can only be used for capital projects – capital projects that often bring additional operating costs. Provincial help for Midland to offset operating costs can only be described as minimal.  Further, the last few years have reduced our industrial base and with it our industrial taxes. So while there are some revenue fixes in the long term, in the short term revenue increases will have to come from residential taxes.

The solution to Midland’s financial challenge will be a mixture of identifying new sources of revenue, increased economic development and reducing our cost of delivering services. Fixing the cost - revenue imbalance is essential for Midland’s future.


J. McCreary said...

A good start, Mr. Mayor.

DMC Midland said...

Recognizing the real problems is half way to an effective solution. You are well on your way. Good work.

Otter Resident said...

Thanks for keeping us informed. You certainly have your work cut out for you. But we have every confidence that you will act in good faith for the good of all in town. Peace be with you!