Ladies and Gentlemen
Council met last evening to finally pass our 2013 budget. As you recall most of the budget had been passed earlier but we had to await budget input from the Police Service Board before we could put 2013 to bed. The bottom-line for Midland taxpayers is a tax increase of 1.7% (to be confirmed by our CFO)
Council supported the budget 6-1, including myself. This budget included positive outcomes tempered with some frustrations. The process began last year with Council directing all departments to set their budget expense growth at 0%. Positively, all departments except Police and Fire were able to achieve this target. This accomplishment required departments to rethink some of the services provided, staff assignments and look diligently for cost savings.
Police, as mentioned earlier, needed more time to make the requested adjustment to 0%. The Police Service Board seriously looked at the cost structure for our policing, especially in light of the already contracted wage increase of 4% for this year. The position that they came back to Council with was a 5.6% increase this year and 1.9% in 2014. That included an agreement for a 1% compensation increase in 2014. Not what was requested by Council but it showed that the Police had listened to Council and proposed measures to move us to a more sustainable cost structure.
At this point in the meeting the tax rate increase was still .8%. Then we asked for an update on how Council’s cost saving request to Fire (also 0%) was going. The Chief had started to implement the cost saving measures discussed with Council but they were now stopped. We were told that there was no likelihood that the measures would be put in place this year due to our Fire labour situation – the Town is bound by its labour agreements. So with no hope of any real savings from Fire, Council decided to put the $160,000 of lost savings back into the 2013 Fire budget bringing us to a tax rate of 1.7%.
The 2013 budget had a number of very positive steps in moving Midland to a sustainable cost structure – with growth roughly tracking the rate of inflation. That said, there are certain areas that will need increased attention, which is where will now focus for 2014.
Be part of Midland’s Year of Getting Involved - 2013.