2017 budget offers over $7M in infrastructure projects 

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by Sylene Argent

At the special meeting to discuss the 2017 budget, on Monday, February 13, Essex Town Council adopted the proposed 2017 budget in principal. It will come before Council at a regular meeting in the near future for formal adoption.

The 2017 budget will allow for a 2.36 percent increase in the general mill rate, impacting the average home valued at $160,000 by $28.00. At the Municipal Levy level, the increase in Essex and Harrow Centres will be 3.02 percent for an increase of $42.83. For McGregor and Colchester, the increase in the Municipal Levy is 2.56 percent.

Essex’s budget includes $7.1 million in infrastructure projects. Reserves will contribute to helping fund some of these projects.

Essex Fire & Rescue will receive around $55,000 for its replacement programs for helmets, hoses, pagers, boots, bunker gear, and extrication gloves. Fire Chief Rick Arnel explained a certain amount of these items get replaced every year from all three stations in accordance with safety standards. Fire & Rescue will also receive around $9,000 for three computer notebooks for the trucks that make it easy for mapping and looking up where air bags or electrical components are located in a vehicle to make car extrication safer. It will also receive funding for carbon monoxide detectors for all three stations at a cost of around $3,000. Arnel explained firefighters use these detectors to detect levels at emergency calls.

$110,000 will be funded through reserves and long-term debenture for a replacement truck for the rescue 1 vehicle at Station #1.

The bathroom at the Gesto facility will be replaced with funding through fire, building, and planning portions of the budget.

Several roads are slated to receive final lifts, the adding of base stone, maintenance, or single lifts. Some of this funding will come through the Gas Tax Reserve or through the OCIF.

In the Community Services Department, $15,000 will be applied to both ball diamond and soccer field upgrades or rehabilitation. Funds will also be used for roof replacement at the Colchester Harbour, a new ridding floor scrubber for the McGregor and Essex Community Centres, and a waterline for the Essex Centre Dog Park.

$50,000 in reserves will be used for Colchester basketball courts. $30,000, also from reserves, will be used to hard surface trails this year.

In Essex Centre, $36,500 will be spent on removing flower beds and replacing them with planters this spring. $25,000 of this funding is coming from the Beautification Fund.

The splash pad and change house for Essex Centre was moved to the 2018 budget deliberations. There is currently $316,000 set aside for this project of the $400,000 needed.

During the meeting, it was noted the waterworks and sanitary sewer departments have healthy reserves and are fully funded through user rates.

Increases in the urban mill rate to cover the funding gap for storm water infrastructure will further impact urban residents by an average of $15.00.

Total Levy rates will be calculated once the School Board has adopted its own budget.

With the 2017 budget adopted in principle, Council will look at the five-year financial plan in the near future. This is the first year the Town of Essex has drafted a financial plan for several years, with a purpose for the document to guide Council and Administration in moving the Town forward.