Council holds first 2018 budget meeting

Filed under: IN THE NEWS |

by Adam Gault

Members of Essex Council and administration met this past Monday for a first formal look at the 2018 municipal budget. Councillors had the opportunity to raise questions regarding the proposed 2018 budget, as well as the 2018-2022 capital and operating forecast.

The 2018 proposed budget is based off of the adopted forecast that was approved in June 2017.

This is the first time the Town of Essex has approved a forecasted budget. This helps Council to accelerate the process of budget approval. In past years, Council would normally discuss the budget early in the calendar year.

This improvement was made possible by the financial department’s dedication to create an asset management plan (AMP). They are the first in the region to have an AMP with this level of detail.

Asset management can be described as the process of examining what new assets, such as fire engines, will initially cost, but also the costs to maintain, repair, and eventually replace them.

With this AMP, the Municipality will have a better idea of the true costs of Town assets now and going forward.

This AMP allowed Council to approved a forecasted 2018 budget in the summer of 2017.

“This document you’re looking at today is the bones of what you adopted earlier this year,” Jeff Morrison said, who is the Director of Finance and Business Services.

During this meeting, Morrison and CAO Donna Hunter went through the differences between the adopted forecast and the proposed budget.

Under the operating revenues and expenses, there were moderate differences between the two.

Morrison said the reason for these changes is as the year end approaches, they’re able to get a more solid idea of what items are going to cost.

Under the capital revenue and expenses there were larger changes. This is due to the planning of applying and receiving of Ontario conditional grants, which would amount to $3.8 million. These grants would be applied in projects such as LED conversion of streetlights, road assessments, Ward 1 storm improvements, and an accessible ramp for the Colchester beach.

These projects would add $2.7 million to the long-term debt of the Town.

Administration clarified if grants could not be approved for the above projects, then they would not proceed in their development at this time.

The finance department came to the table with a completely balanced budget for Council to review, which will be further discussed at a budget meeting on Monday, November 13 at the Essex Municipal Building at 5 p.m.

The meeting also featured the swearing-in of newly appointed Ward 3 Councillor Ron Rogers, who was elected to the position in a by-election last week.