The 2018 draft capital budget was presented to council at the last meeting, totalling approximately $1.5 million.
Some of the larger ticket items included several infrastructure projects on the roads in Merrickville, including water and wastewater sewer work, and road resurfacing. There were more renovations to the municipal centre proposed as well, with a kitchen renovation and update to the council chambers to make it more organized and accessible with the addition of better audio and visual systems. There is also a structural issue on the second floor of the building that needs to be rectified. Apparently, there were funds earmarked for this in the 2016 capital budget, but the project was never carried out.
The largest item in the capital budget to date is the purchase of a new fire pumper truck, at a cost of $500,000. Although the current truck has been maintained properly over the years, and is in relatively good condition, Chief Mark Urquhart says the National Fire Protection Association does not recognize any vehicles over 25-years of age. The Merrickville-Wolford 26-year-old pumper is one of their initial attack vehicles in the case of a fire, and it is imperative that it gets to where it needs to go without breaking down. “Would you be comfortable driving a 26-year-old car down the 401?” Mark asks, “There is risk for mechanical failure.”
Merrickvile-Wolford resident, Ivan Wood, stood up during the public question period to express his displeasure with a capital budget that is a more than 50% increase over last year. “One of the things that has appalled me has been the rise in taxes,” he told council. “There are a lot of pensioners who live in the Village. I don’t know if they can continue on in this way.”
The purpose of this initial budget presentation was for staff to be able to lay everything out on the table, so council could see what they were looking at for 2018’s capital budget. Two items, new flag poles for the municipal centre, and a reserve fund for the construction of a washroom/visitors centre, have already been crossed off the list. Mayor David Nash made it known early in the evening that he felt that the $1.5 million allocated for these was much too high and that prioritization of projects would be a necessity to bring the cost down to a more realistic number.
A complete list of the capital budget projects, and the costs associated with them, are in the November 27 council package which is available on the Municipality’s website.