Council prepares to adopt Budget 2019


by Mayor Nancy Peckford and Deputy Mayor Jim McManaman

After much deliberation and lively debate, Council members voted unanimously on March 13 to bring the 2019 budget to Council for adoption at Tuesday, March 19 Council meeting. With the election of an entirely new Council, both Municipal staff and elected officials moved to ensure that Council was fully up to speed on the fiscal realities of our community before the New Year. However, given a robust election campaign which included seven all-candidate debates, Council members have felt fairly well equipped going into this budget process.

Budget deliberations began in early January, followed by two Municipal budget discussion forums, over twenty presentations from community groups, and several Committee of the Whole meetings to discuss capital and operating expenditures. Throughout, all Council members recognized the need to achieve the right balance between investments in our community and tax relief for residents and business owners. With this in mind, we cued municipal staff early on to our desire to re-visit the annual 2% increase to North Grenville’s property tax rate, while at the same time ensuring the 2019 budget facilitates important investments in infrastructure and levels of service.

In our view, promoting an affordable, safe and high quality of life for all of North Grenville’s residents is among Council’s top priorities. Ultimately, this budget goes some of the distance to achieving both. While your Council is proud to have reduced the property tax rate increase to 1.5% (vs the annual 2%), we recognize it is largely a symbolic move. Nonetheless, as property values increase due to high growth (and residents pay more in tax), we know every penny counts.

The community has also been clear that investments in infrastructure are imperative so we can effectively manage growth, and evolve as a community. To this end, Council members worked collaboratively on five areas: 1. roads and pedestrian safety; 2. water and sewer upgrades; 3. parks and recreation; 4. emergency preparedness, as well as 5. economic development. Maintaining the commitment to building the municipality’s reserves was also paramount. Consequently, $1.7 was set aside for future capital and operational expenditures.

In the end, through budget 2019, twenty gravel and paved roads throughout North Grenville will receive surface treatment, gravel rebuild, preventative overlay or pavement overlay. After a long wait, sanitary sewers will finally be completed on County Road 44 from DePencier Drive to County Road 43.

Sewer lines serving the Curling Club, where there have been re-occurring and unfortunate back-ups in a world class facility, will be rehabilitated. An additional $200,000 has been set aside to an existing reserve for future work under Wellington Road.

Council members approached pedestrian safety – a big issue in the election – with great care during the budget process. Both Hurd and Clothier streets, given significant increases in pedestrian and vehicular traffic, need attention. A multi-use pathway will be established on Hurd, and sections of Clothier Street will get a sidewalk.

Lighting for the County Road 43 bridge, where there was a tragic fatality, will be installed to increase visibility. As Mayor, my efforts alongside the County to secure funding from the province for other crucial upgrades to CR 43 are ongoing, and I am optimistic about the results.

Sidewalk equipment will also be acquired to ensure winter sidewalk clearing in Burritts Rapids and Bishops Mills. Funds have been earmarked to implement important traffic calming measures on Concession Road. From this experience, we will be looking at other areas in future years. Furthermore, budget 2019 also includes funds for a sidewalk strategy for all of North Grenville, something this new Council welcomes.

Many will be excited to learn that the dock at Curry Park will also be replaced, baseball diamonds at South Gower Park will be rehabilitated, and Maplewood Hall and the Gazebo will undergo modest upgrades. For the first time in North Grenville’s history, a Recreation Master Plan will be developed to address the current and future need for parks, green spaces and other recreational amenities, including a splash pad, and/or a multi-season/ indoor pool.

Equally as important, the tourism budget within Economic Development has been significantly increased, and the soon-to-be convened Economic Development Committee will be leading exciting conversations on enabling and promoting North Grenville’s business community, and community economic development generally.

Finally, North Grenville’s volunteer Fire Department, which has just launched a new campaign for additional recruits, will have the benefit of a new water fill site at Oxford Mills and access to carbon breathing air cylinders. These are fundamental investments given that we rely on an entirely volunteer service, but for the Chief and Deputy Chief.

However, Council will barely take a pause after the adoption of 2019 budget. Once we know the results of the Municipality’s comprehensive Asset Management Plan, expected this Spring, Council members will shift their attention to a multi-year budgeting approach based on a 4-year cycle – which will begin this Fall.

This methodology will more precisely anticipate where we, as a community, must invest, not only today, but well into the future. In partnership with staff, Council members will also be focusing on integrating lean practices into all municipal processes to ensure the best use of tax dollars. Further, Council is eager to renew the Municipality’s long-term financial forecast so we can better predict revenues given the growth we are seeing.

As a high growth municipality, North Grenville’s revenue picture is relatively strong. Approximately $15 million of the 2019 budget is derived from property taxes (90% residential), with the remaining $13.4 million being generated from Municipal user fees (bag tags, ice time, room rentals), water rates, building fees, development charges, and provincial and federal grants.

Approximately $7.7 million annually is allocated to employee wages and mandatory employment related costs for full-time, part-time and seasonal employees. There is no doubt that, as a growing community, staff are stretched, demands are high, and attracting and retaining staff deserves consideration. A recent compensation review was completed which had a minimal impact on this year’s budget, and a subsequent review is now being undertaken for part time seasonal staff.

It’s obvious that the stresses created by new growth are significant, as are some of the benefits. The costs of constantly rehabilitating roads and aging infrastructure, not to mention investing in new infrastructure and amenities, loom large. Rest assured, however, your new Council is up for the challenge.


  1. Budget appears well thought out. The only major concern I have is to hear confirmation that all the work outlined for water and sewer improvements/expansion will be done financially within the water/sewer budget or capital/development charges not repeat not general taxation.


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