Augusta Township is moving forward with its 2019 Budget review
Augusta Matters by Mayor Doug Malanka
Deliberations on the 2019 budget for Augusta Township opened on Tuesday, February 5th, 2019. CAO Morrison told Council at this initial meeting that he would start off with a review of expected revenues in 2019 compared with revenues received in 2018 and then conduct a line‑by‑line review of the budget being proposals for each of the Township’s departments. The Augusta Township’s Library Board presented their own budget to Council. CAO Morrison told Council that he would record any cuts, modifications or additions proposed by Council during our review and submit the changes for ratification at the following budget meeting. Mr. Morrison advised Council that he would delay forecasting the levy implications for the overall 2019 budget being proposed until he had direction from the Province of Ontario on what the Municipality could expect to receive in Ontario Municipal Partnership Funding (OMPF). OMPF is the Province’s main general assistance grant to municipalities and OMPF has accounted in the past for approximately 9 to 12% of Augusta Township revenues. In late December 2018, the Province informed Municipalities to prepare for a possible reduction in OMPF funding due to the large debt and deficits created by the past provincial Liberal government. It was hoped that the Province would provide some certainty on how much Augusta Township could expect to receive in OMPF funds for 2019 before Council’s line‑by‑line review of budget is completed.
During the first budget meeting on February 5th, Council reviewed 2019 operating revenues and reviewed proposed budgets for Waste Management, Planning, Economic Development, Agricultural Products, Street Lights and Municipal Donations. Council also received the 2019 Library budget from Augusta Township’s Library Board which called for an increase of 2.8% or approximately $5,000. The Board was thanked for the good work they perform in the Community including library services and advised that Council’s approval of the proposed Library budget would be subject to other budget considerations and level of OMPF funds received from the Province.
At the second Budget review meeting held on February 12th, 2019, Fire Chief Rob Bowman presented the 2019 Augusta Fire Rescue Budget. Councillor Michele Bowman recused herself from the meeting during Chief Bowman’s presentation regarding the salary of himself, the Deputy Fire Chief and Fire Captains. As part of his budgetary submission, Fire Chief Bowman presented the results of a survey he had conducted comparing compensation paid to Augusta Township volunteer fire fighters with those paid by nine (9) other municipalities in Leeds and Grenville. According to Fire Chief Bowman, the survey established that the remuneration paid to volunteer fire fighters in other municipalities far exceeded the amount paid to Augusta Fire Fighters. For example, Augusta Fire Fighters would get $26.48 for a four-hour call while volunteer fire fighters in other municipalities surveyed get $64.48 to $97.80 for their four-hour call. In response to the survey of honorariums in other Leeds and Grenville communities, Fire Chief Bowman recommended that Council raise the honorarium paid to Augusta Fire Fighters while engaged in fire and rescue calls to equal the minimum hourly wage pay standard in Ontario which is $14.00/hour. Chief Bowman told Council that the increase, if approved, would not place Augusta Fire Fighters near the average of honorariums paid in other Municipalities but would only move them nearer to the lowest paid fire fighters. The proposed increase amounts to approximately $25,000 in 2019.
At the 3rd budget meeting on February 19th, 2019, Council received delegations from Cowan Insurance and from Macintosh Perry regarding Township insurance coverage and Municipal drains respectively. Further meetings are planned in March 5th, 2019 at 1:30 pm and March 25th. At 6:30. As a post script, Augusta Township received news late on Friday, February 15th that its OMPF program and funding will remain virtually the same as in 2018. Good news!
Before closing, I’d like to remind everyone of the Doors Open Event being held at the Limerick Forest Interpretive Centre at 1175 Limerick Road this Sunday, March 3rd 2019 from 10 am to 3 pm. See our Augusta Township Website for further details.