Clean audit for Minden Hills
By Sue Tiffin
The following are brief reports of items discussed during a July 25 meeting of Minden Hills council.
The township received a clean audit from Oscar Poloni, KPMG auditor, who presented to council on the 2018 financial statements. The total financial assets have increased from $10.7 million in 2017 to $11 million in 2018, according to Poloni’s report summary.
“Accounts receivable (including taxes receivable) are consistent at $1.92 million in 2018 compared to $1.95 million in 2017,” reads the report.
Poloni said council has a healthy community given that people are paying their taxes, and that the township is “doing a good job from a collection perspective as well.”
According to his report, accounts payable and accrued liabilities have decreased by $104,000, “reflecting lower capital and tax requisition payables offset by higher deposits and insurance settlement amounts.” Poloni said there was a “fairly significant increase” with respect to insurance deductibles and settlements to $255,834 in 2018 from $85,000 in 2017, noting “there’s a number of claims that have been made against the town,” including accidents like falls.
Total revenues have gone up by about $700,000 from $12.4 million in 2017 to $13.1 million in 2018, which reflects a $654,000 increase in property taxation revenue and $279,000 increase in provincial grants. Total expenses have increased by about $300,000 from $11.1 million in 2017 to $11.4 million in 2018, due to a $65,000 decrease in OPP costs; $81,000 increase in amortization expense for transportation and $62,000 increase in transportation consultant costs with respect to roads needs studies and other projects.
Plan to purchase waste facilities excavator
Travis Wilson, director of public works, presented to council on formal quotes for the lease or purchase of an excavator for township waste facilities, after a direction from council at a June 13 meeting to do so.
Toromont Caterpillar priced the purchase of a 316F model at $261,591 and a 4.4 per cent lease rate, while Nortrax Canada offered a 160G model at a cost of $291,500 and a 4.7 per cent lease rate.
Staff recommended purchasing the Caterpillar 316F – which includes the comprehensive warranty and maintenance program, hydraulic plate packer, 36” bucket with hydraulic thumb and a 60” hydraulic tilt bucket – at a total cost of $261,041, plus $550 administrative lease fee for a total of $261,591 plus HST.
“Staff recommend proceeding with a 48-month lease on the machine at a rate of 4.4 per cent,” reads Wilson’s report. “The monthly payment exclusive of HST is $5,931 per month. The total interest paid over the 48 months equates to $23,129.”
Staff did not recommend using reserves to purchase the excavator, but rather using the availability of cash reserves to finance the purchase internally at the 4.4 per cent interest rate over 48 months, placing interest earned from the internal financing back into landfill reserves for future operational or capital purchases.
At the June meeting, staff recommended the excavator to allow staff to clean up the waste facility sites, compact bins, place cover, repair issues and provide ongoing landfill maintenance without arranging for a contractor to be on site.
A mattress recycling program for the Scotch Line waste facility will allow for old mattresses and box springs to be stripped down into various components, with recyclable materials being sorted and reused to create thermal isolation, mulch, carpet underlay, metal products and other items.
“Historically, the township has ground old mattresses and landfilled them, taking up valuable space,” said Travis Wilson, director of public works.
Recyc-Mattress Inc. provided a quote of $1,700 for a 53-foot trailer on-site for five days and transportation of mattresses and box springs to their North York facility. The processing of mattresses and box springs would cost $12 each. Wilson noted a lot of manual labour is involved.
“Best practices estimate a 53-foot trailer may hold between 125-190 mattresses/box springs,” reads Wilson’s report, noting that staff anticipates one to two loads – or approximately 125 to 380 mattresses/box springs, making for a cost of $3,200 up to $7,960 for processing. Staff recommended landfill reserves be used, as the cost of the program was not included in the 2019 budget.
A discussion on winter sand
Staff sought direction from council regarding the provision of winter sand for public use, which is offered to residents during the winter season for their private driveways. During the 2018/2019 winter season, approximately 1,700 tonnes of winter sand was supplied, at a total cost of $26,400 for the sand and transportation of the sand to the Minden patrol yard by Francis Thomas Contracting as well as for salt that is mixed with the sand.
Wilson said staff and some ratepayers are concerned that residents from outside the township are taking sand that is intended only for Minden Hills residents, residents taking more than the allocated amount of sand, and contractors, businesses and agencies taking the sand for their own maintenance services from the arena parking lot, where it is usually offered.
Wilson said neighbouring municipalities – including the municipality of Dysart et al, the township of Algonquin Highlands, and the towns of both Bracebridge and Bancroft supply sand from public works yards and have similar issues, while some, like the city of Peterborough and City of Kawartha Lakes don’t supply sand at all. The municipality of Trent Lakes is changing to supply sand from transfer stations that are gated after hours, with residents showing a card upon entry.
Councillor Bob Carter said the option to distribute sand from the landfill “seems to make perfect sense.” Citing a comment from the township’s auditor earlier in the meeting, that those who use municipal services the most can afford them the least, he said he’d like to see the service continue.
“I think this is kind of one of the nice things that we do, and I wouldn’t want to just get rid of it without us really taking a look at it,” he said. “There has to be a place that we own or control where we can do it for the next year, whether it be at one of the yards, or wherever.”
Further discussion regarding the sand will be had at an upcoming council meeting.
New tourism website in the works
A destination/tourism website exclusive to Minden Hills is closer to being online after council approved a recommendation from Emily Stonehouse, economic development, destination and marketing officer, to pursue an agreement with Sandbox Software Solutions.
A joint request for proposal for new website designs between the township, the county and the municipality of Highlands East was issued in April, with submissions being due a month later, in May. “Six proposals were received, and were measured through an intense scoring process, consisting of ratings in accessibility, ease of navigation, design, format, and financial implications,” reads the report from Stonehouse. “The Township of Minden Hills had an additional section built into the scoring system, which highlighted experience specific to catering to the destination/tourism sector, as well as the ease of creating a business directory to highlight local businesses and entrepreneurs.”
The average price of the six proponents for the Minden Hills destination/tourism site was $41,316. The offer by Sandbox was the second-lowest financial offer, coming in at $22,264 plus HST. Other costs include additional licensing at $2,474 plus HST per year, website hosting at $299 plus HST per year and annual monthly maintenance and support at $5,520 plus HST per year.