No organizational review in budget
By Chad Ingram
Published March 21, 2019
An organizational review of the Township of Minden Hills will not be included in the township’s 2019 budget, despite the pleas of one member of council.
Township councillors held their third round of budget discussions during a March 14 meeting, where Councillor Pam Sayne made repeated requests that money for an organizational review be included in this year’s budget.
Organizational reviews, typically conducted by a third-party consultant, assess the structure of a municipality including staffing, seeking out efficiencies, etc.
“We’ve got to do this, we’ve been putting this off for too long,” said Sayne, who’s made calls in the past for the township to have an organizational review conducted.
Sayne noted that the township’s new arena, which is scheduled to be completed by fall of 2020, would require an increase in staffing, and that as such, it seemed a logical time to conduct a review.
“It’s kind of like if someone has never worn shoes before, they don’t know how much they need them,” Sayne said.
Mayor Brent Devolin said it was likely that some time in 2019 there would be a conversation at the Haliburton County council table regarding increased co-operation between the county’s four lower-tier townships, and that depending on the outcome of that conversation, it would make more sense to leave any organizational review until 2020.
“We respect your opinion . . . you’ve been unwavering in it, over a number of years,” Devolin said. Other members of council felt pursuing an organizational review this year was premature.
Sayne was successful at getting a $5,000 contribution to Whitewater Ontario included in the draft budget. Back in January, reps from Whitewater Ontario, which operates the Minden Wild Water Preserve, made a delegation to council, requesting a $5,000 contribution, partially to offset water release charges from Parks Canada, which operate the dam near the site, and partially for legacy signage on the township-owned side of the river.
“I find it embarrassing we can’t give $5,000 ... with all the other things that we’re doing regarding recreation,” Sayne said, in what appeared to be a reference to the arena project which is expected to cost $12.9 million.
Other members of council, including Devolin, said they were comfortable putting $5,000 in the draft budget for Whitewater Ontario.
It also appears that Minden Hills will accrue a surplus for 2018. Earlier in the budget process, council deferred $1 million worth of roads projects to 2020 discussions, including a $400,000 refurbishing of the Sunnybrook bridge in Minden’s downtown.
“While I don’t always like to see big surpluses, at the end of the day, they help with these situations,” said treasurer and chief administrative officer Lorrie Blanchard, explaining the surplus could be used toward the bridge project, or elsewhere.
“If Sunnybrook bridge is the priority of council, there’s going to be a way to do that,” Blanchard said.
The draft budget included a seven per cent increase in the tax levy, equating to a residential tax rate increase of just under five per cent. However, changes to the budget are still to come.
The next draft will be presented at a public meeting on March 28.