St. Marys Journal Argus
With their counterparts in Lucan-Biddulph holding the final say, it’s “Whelan Line reconstruction, take two” for the Township of Perth South, as councillors continue deliberations about the municipality’s 2015 budget.
In early January of last year, the plan was for Lucan-Biddulph and Perth South to jointly apply for funding for the reconstruction of the Whelan Line through a provincial government infrastructure program geared towards rural and northern municipalities. That application, however, was denied.
Perth South then downgraded its reconstruction plans, approving in its 2014 budget work on about a third of the originally-scheduled length of roadway — which forms the boundary between the two municipalities.
Lucan-Biddulph, however, eliminated the project completely from its budget. So it never went ahead.
Speaking at a public meeting Tuesday, Feb. 10 at the Perth South Council Chambers in St. Pauls, Director of Public Works Ken Bettles explained that the project is once again being included in Perth South’s proposed 2015 budget. The total cost of the reconstruction, cited in a presentation provided by Bettles, is $750,000, with the suggestion that about $260,000 of the cost be taken from reserves and about $143,000 from a Gas Tax grant. That still, however, leaves $375,000 to be covered by Lucan-Biddulph — confirmation of which Perth South councillors will have to wait for until the conclusion of that township’s own budget discussions.
At the Feb. 10 meeting, Bettles and Treasurer Rebecca Clothier outlined the planned expenditures in the township’s 2015 budget, and asked for comments from the public. It was a sparsely-attended meeting (in fact, two of seven members of Council were away as well) but CAO Tim Ivanyshyn urged the public to look at the information that’s available on the Perth South website and make their feelings known.
Ivanyshyn noted that a final meeting about the proposed budget will happen Tuesday, March 3.
Proposals include a $400,000 reconstruction project on Line 29 and a $633,204 reconstruction of Road 120, as well as bridge repairs on Line 10 and Line 14 totalling almost $600,000. A tandem snowplow is also up for renewal at a cost of $217,856.
In a joint funding agreement with the Downie Optimist Club, the budget proposes a $30,000 upgrade of the heating and cooling system in the Optimist Hall in St. Pauls.
On the revenue side, there are proposals to increase the cost of garbage bag tags to $2.50, as well as what were described by Ivanyshyn as “cost of living” increases in permit fees for the township’s Building Department. Speaking to the Journal Argus, the CAO explained that provincial guidelines dictate that municipal building departments should operate on a cost-recovery basis, so as the cost of running the department increases incrementally, the amount paid for fees should also increase.
In the future, pending Council approval, a bylaw would be introduced that ensures these incremental cost-of-living increases go ahead without the need to seek Council approval.
Downie Ward resident Ernie Vanderschot, in attendance at the meeting, inquired why the township doesn’t take out debentures to fund some of the large infrastructure projects, given the favourable interest rates currently available. Vanderschot suggested this might be a way to soften the blow on ratepayers — who, under the tentative 2015 budget, could face a 15.7 per cent increase in tax levy.
Mayor Bob Wilhelm responded that “the Township is in the fortunate position of not having any debt,” and argued he’d like to see things stay that way. And Deputy Mayor Jim Aitcheson agreed, saying the challenge — despite low interest rates — would be making the debenture payments over the long term.