by Fred Groves
Taxpayers in Essex are going to have to tighten their belts the next few years in order to rectify a situation that is, in some instances, critical.
As part of its recent budget deliberations, Council was made aware that over the next five years, some municipally owned buildings, vehicles, equipment, and machinery will have to be replaced.
And the price tags are hefty.
“Many of our buildings are old and beyond their useful life and need repair,” Essex CAO Tracey Pillon-Abbs said.
In a report card style document, prepared by an independent consultant, Essex has a total of 22 buildings and of those, half of the community services facilities were given a failing grade.
Pillon-Abbs said that the detailed report was broken down into various areas and noted that beginning in 2018, Council could be setting aside two percent to elevate the problems.
If all the buildings in Essex were to be replaced, it would be a whopping $55.3 million. Vehicles, which include 17 for protection to persons and property and 12 in community services, has a replacement tag of $4.6 million.
Of those, the report indicated 38 percent are in a critical state.
“The new fire truck we’ve purchased, and will be here by the end of the year, will bring that down. The Chief has six other trucks over the next five years that need to be replaced,” Pillon-Abbs said.
Overall condition of machinery and equipment, which includes 903 units in community services and 1,715 units in protection to persons and property, is fair but 43 percent is in the critical state.
“For Council, it is definitely an eye-opener, but it puts things into perspective.”
She said that during the asset management process, department directors and managers had input and each area was even counting chairs and tables.
Pillon-Abbs said that the process is required by the provincial government for financial stability and although it is a five-year plan, the municipality will review it every year.
And as far as what taxpayers can expect in the future, the CAO replied, “They need to be aware there is going to be a two percent going into reserves.”