Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Midland 2014 Budget Presentation

Budget Presentation to Council
Mayor’s Address
January 27, 2014


I know that you are all waiting for Mr. Villenueve’s remarks – he has all the interesting information.

The 2014 budget has been four years in the making.   Back in 2011 Council set itself the objective of fiscal responsibility. This responsibility had to balance the need for spending on municipal services with that of our economic reality - slow growth; many residents dependent upon government supports; and the loss of jobs in our community.  Fairness seemed to come in about the rate of inflation – in the range of 1-2%.

Fiscal responsibility also meant asking serious questions about how we deliver our services. Council commissioned and received the KPMG report in 2012. This report assessed all departments and gave each department manager insights on how to better organize scarce dollar and staff resources while providing quality services for our citizens.

Overall Budget

Building on this background the Town of Midland’s 2014 budget will come in with a municipal tax increase of 1.7%. 

This result took a lot of hard work.  The exercise began with Council directing all departments to look at their operations and come forward with responsible budgets for both 0% and 2 % cost growth.  Departments took up the challenge and responded. Council then took those results, weighed the public interest and crafted the final budget that you see here tonight.

I want to thank Council, our CAO Carolyn Tripp and CFO Marc Villeneuve for their leadership in the budget work. I also want to recognize all the department heads for the hard work that they put into making tonight’s budget a reality.

The budget allows for cost growth of 1.9%, which while above the rate of inflation, required some departments to make cuts. But the good news is that under the direction of Shawn Berriault, Public Works is still safely plowing our roads the roads and Bryan Peter and his Parks department still provides the best park services in Simcoe.  And even in these times of restraint, funds were provided to many outside groups including:
-         Museum roof - $145,000
-         Boys and Girls Club $86,000
-         Hospital - $41,000
-         Askennonia - $6,000

Council has spoken many times about the need to also direct funds to build our future – to economic development, tourism and town infrastructure. Funding for these initiatives had to be found by reallocating current dollars.  Our 2014 budget accomplishes this: 
-         The Unimin waterfront property was acquired (almost) for $4 million – The carrying costs are included in the budget
-         Our focus on economic development continues with a $50,000 investment – thank you to Wes Crown
-         LED street light program will wrap up this year with the energy savings helping future budgets for many years

The 2014 budget achieves all of this while allowing our reserves to remain healthy and our debt manageable.

The Future

Tonight’s budget is a step on Midland’s path of financial management. We will put the 2014 budget to bed shortly but there remain a number of fiscal issues that will continue to confront Council:
-         The overall cost of uniformed services is growing rapidly and must be reconciled with the municipality’s ability to pay
-         Provincial downloading is directing new costs to the taxpayers of Midland
-         The slow economy has significantly impacted municipal revenues

Our budget is part of our plan for the longer term.  It has to be responsible to the present and position us for a bright future. Thanks to Council and staff the 2014 budget achieves those goals.

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