Lowest Budget Increase in 8 Years for Residents of Fort Erie

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

3 thoughts on “Lowest Budget Increase in 8 Years for Residents of Fort Erie

  1. Sandra Wallace

    I would like to understand the setting up of a reserve fund for the new hospital. I understand that Mayor Martin committed the town of Fort Erie to a 3 million dollar donation. How does the reserve fund work? Will we have to borrow money and pay interest on it when the 3 million becomes due and carry this interest. Hopefully you can explain this to me. Thank you,

    1. Kelly Davis - Moderator Post author

      Thank you for your question. Town Council passed a resolution to commit the $3,000,000 to the new Niagara South Hospital on July 15/13. The related contributions were approved in By-law 22-2014 as a supplementary base budget increase for 2014 of $200,000/year towards the payment. This annual payment will be funded by the General Levy and will accumulate in a reserve along with interest earnings and is not funded by debt.

      It is expected that $1,000,000 of these pre-construction reserve savings will be paid at the signing of the agreement in 5 years. The contribution will then be reduced to $193,000/year for 15 years and paid as a grant to fulfill the net present value of the remaining amount. The amounts and timelines are only estimates and subject to adjustment when agreements are formally negotiated with the Niagara Health System (NHS).

      Please feel free to call me (905-871-1600 x2307) if you wish to discuss this further. Thank you.

      Jonathan Janzen, CPA, CA
      Interim Director of Financial Services/Treasurer
      Town of Fort Erie

  2. Lesley North

    It’s all well and fine to come up with a lower % increase but what I would like to know about the last three years is what is the overall reduction to the reserve funds where the lighthouse was paid for $373,000 as well as reduction in assets for example the Lighthouse Keeper House Valued at $800,000 sold for $400,000? It’s all well and fine to reduce the tax increase but at what cost? I also believe that the reserve was used to pay out the settlement and the tort to Heather Salter. Looks like an overall mess for the next council to have to balance the books.
    BTW the 3 million commitment for the new hospital will work out to approximately $5-6 per year per person. Not a lot to pay for Heath Care benefits of a new hospital.

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