At its Regular meeting last evening, Town of Fort Erie Council approved the 2014 Operating and Capital Budgets. The Operating Base Budget of $20.56 million came in at less than 2013 figures, mainly due to an increase in the Ontario Municipal Partnership Funding agreement with the Province. Additional Supplementary Budget requests, that were approved, increased the final General Levy to $21.5 million.
“The Supplementary Budget items that Council approved for 2014 are important ones. The funding for the South Niagara Hospital, Capital Reserve funding and enhancements to the service levels for our parks, cemeteries, beaches and trails will help us build for the future and improve our quality of life. We have also restored the annual investment of $800,000 in roads rehabilitation, which I know has been a concern for many residents and businesses,” stated Corporate Services Chair, John Hill. Council also approved additional supplementary funding for the Kinsmen Pool, Library part-time wages and benefits that will result in restoring services that were previously lost, funding for an Integrity Commissioner and removal of the Bay Beach concession stand. A complete listing of the Supplementary Items, totalling $984,029, can be found on the Town’s web-site.
Mayor Martin added, “Council has also ensured that funding for the new South Niagara Hospital will continue based on the creation of a new South Niagara Hospital Reserve Fund. Council and staff, through their due diligence, were very cognizant of the tough economic times facing Fort Erie residents when approving supplementary items. Together with the 0% increase in the water and wastewater rates, the Town continues providing excellent service at a responsible and affordable cost while still being able to plan for a brighter future for our residents”.
The Capital Budget of $7.5 million includes key projects for 2014 such as the replacement of heavy rescue equipment used by the Fire Department, Ryan Avenue Upgrade, Thunder Bay storm sewer and Schooley Road Storm Sewer Outlet and Drain. A number of additional municipal drains will also see capital works completed in 2014 including Beaver Creek South Branch and the Mann and Zavitz Municipal Drains. The Crystal Ridge arena will see its roof replaced and a study initiation for the installation of solar panels. Water capital projects include watermain work on Belleview Boulevard, Hendershot Street, Hershey Street, Mathewson Avenue and Ridge Road South. A number of Fleet vehicles are also scheduled for replacement in 2014. Funding for the Central Avenue Bridge replacement was removed from the Capital Budget as it has been deferred by the Region of Niagara with construction to take place in 2015.
Interim CAO, Tom Kuchyt, also provided kudos to the outgoing Director of Financial Services, stating “Helen Chamberlain has led Council and staff in another responsible budget process and will be truly missed. Her leadership in financial and long-term planning has ensured that the Town is on the right