2018 budget approved in principle

Filed under: Headline,IN THE NEWS |

by Adam Gault

Essex Town Council held a special meeting on Monday evening at the Essex Civic Centre, where members approved the 2018 budget in principle. During this meeting, Councillors again had the opportunity to raise questions and concerns surrounding various areas of the budget, as well as the capital and operating forecast over the next five years.

The speed of this year’s approval, the first time the Town’s budget has been approved the calendar year prior to its implementation, can largely be attributed to the success of the Asset Management Plan and how it streamlines the process surrounding maintaining and replacing Town assets.

As part of the 2018 budget and the recently approved organizational review, several new Council and administrative positions are being allocated for the coming year.

These include the addition of a Deputy Mayor at Large, Deputy CAO, Technology Specialist, Deputy Chief Building Official, Assistant Mechanic and Operator, Facility Maintenance Technician, Director of Development Services, and a Lead Hand of Environmental Services.

Chris Nepszy, Director of Infrastructure and Development, explained several roads in the Town are slated for upgrade or replacement this year. Depending on a variety of factors, this includes either a simple resurfacing, or a complete tear up to bring these roads back to speed.

Roads selected for these improvements in 2018 include the 14th Concession between County Road 11 to Old Walker Sideroad, Craig Beach Road, North Malden Road between the 13th and Gesto Sideroad, the 8th Concession, between Coulter and McCormick, and Gore Road.

It was also applied to finish the paved shoulders on County Road 50 going east, and connect the sidewalk on Maidstone to McDonald’s and Tim Hortons.

Councillor Randy Voakes expressed concern with Irwin Avenue not being included among those streets selected for upgrades, stating that concerns about speed and safety on the narrow residential street have been brought to his attention.

There are no plans to change any gravel roads in the Town to hard surfaced through 2020.

Director of Community Services Doug Sweet spoke to the community improvements the Town has planned with the 2018 budget. These include the Colchester Harbour accessible ramp access connecting the park directly to the beach, a new Toro industrial lawnmower for the Parks Department, Stanton Park Drainage upgrades, as well as upgrades to the baseball diamonds and soccer field.

With the Public Works Department, storm water management was at the forefront of discussion with four bridges recommended for repair within the next year, as well as a complete Ward 1 storm improvement project.

In terms of water and sanitary, there will be a series of capital upgrades at all of the facilities, including upgrades for sewage facilities as well as standard operational maintenance.

As the meeting came to a close, CAO Donna Hunter expressed satisfaction that the budget was of a very reasonable nature, and was completely balanced for 2018.

Council will finalize approval of the 2018 budget at a future council meeting.