While Niagara-on-the-Lake councillors got their first look at the proposed 2024 capital budget, it was a memo from the town’s treasurer that got the most attention at Wednesday’s budget review committee meeting.
The committee heard on Sept. 27 that the 2024 projected budget of $10.4 million represents a 7.5 per cent increase from 2023’s $9.7 million.
In the memo, director of corporate services and treasurer Kyle Freeborn outlined staff’s thinking on several projects, most notably reconstruction projects on Mississagua Street between Mary and Queen streets, as well as Concession 6 Road between Warner and York roads.
In the case of the former, Freeborn said in his memo that staff felt the Mississagua Street work could be put off for a year while Concession 6 “is in a deteriorated state, nearing its end of service life and requires reconstruction to address a deteriorating road base, surface conditions and drainage issues.”
Not committing to the project would mean “significant staff time and resources will be required” to keep the road safe for traffic.
Coun. Sandra O’Connor chaired the budget committee meeting but gave up the chair temporarily to comment on the matter.
She said the town had already spent $3.7 million on Concession 6 Road and now, an additional $2.6 million would be required to bring it up to snuff.
“We’re over $5 million, $6 million on that and that is something we have been talking about turning over to the region,” O’Connor said. “That’s a lot of money to fix up that road – that is needed by the way.”
Delay, delay and delay
Coun. Gary Burroughs expressed unease at the idea of reconstruction on Mississagua Street being put off.
“All we ever seem to talk about is it’s on the one-to-five-year list,” he said. “Well, it’s the main entrance to our town and that gives it a little more priority.”
Director of operations Rome D’Angelo said the project has been sent back to staff and that an information report had come to council “a couple of weeks ago” and concerns were raised about trees and sidewalks.
“This is a very sensitive segment of road,” he said.
He added that, even if no public meetings were held on the project, “tender specs” would probably not be ready before the fall of 2024.
“This is an opportunity to free up those dollars for 2024.”
He assured the councillor that the project will be part of the 2025 budget.
But Burroughs remained concerned.
“My challenge is it’s a road we’ve known about for years now and we keep deferring it.”
How much for that fire truck?
Coun. Maria Mavridis wondered about an item in the fire and emergency services budget detailing a $20,000 “deposit” and a new truck.
“What would be the remaining balance on that?” she asked.
After staff told her that the cost for a replacement for Pump 1 could be as much as $900,000, Freeborn told Mavridis that the purchases of fire trucks, because of their high cost, are debentured.
Paying the deposit for item would also commit the town to the purchase, he added.
When the committee was presented with a 10-year capital budget forecast, Burroughs shared concerns about how costs fluctuated from year to year with a notable jump from 2024 to 2025 ($10. million to $19.4 million).
Freeborn admitted there were some jumps, but that the document presented was only a forecast and shouldn’t be considered a formal document.
“But it does give us an idea of spending over the next 10 years.”
He added that the town will need to work on a funding strategy “so it gives some predictability.”
With that in mind, Burroughs said he wanted to look at the past 10 years for comparison, something that Freeborn said could be arranged after the meeting.