Town budgets $100,000 for landfill legal fees
The Town of Ingersoll has put $100,000 in its 2012 budget for legal fees to address a proposal for a landfill in Beachville.
Starting out with $25,000 in the draft budget for that purpose, councillors felt it wasn't a realistic amount and upped the figure by $75,000 during a budget meeting on Tuesday, April 3.
Deputy Mayor Fred Freeman pointed out that the landfill proposal process is expected to take three to five years and the town may have to spend that much on legal fees each year.
“Until it starts to happen, we're not going to know what it's going to cost us,” he said. “But ($100,000) is going to be closer (than $25,000).”
The $100,000 budget for legal fees represents a 1% increase in municipal taxes on a residential property valued at $205,000 and translates into $20 per household on the tax roll.
While it still has to be approved, the town's current budget for 2012 totals $15.56 million – an increase of about $1 million over 2011.
The overall net residential tax increase is 2.6%. That works out to an extra $81.88 on an average residential property valued at $205,000. Most residential properties will realize a higher increase due to the final 25% current value assessment (CVA) adjustment, which has been phased in over four years.
Several uncontrollable items impacted Ingersoll's budget, including a $104,000 reduction in Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) funding, a $128,303 increase in its policing contract with the OPP and $164,000 attributed to inflation. There was also the cost of a loan from the county that is being repaid at the rate of $125,000 for the next 10 years, outstanding potential insurance claims of $60,000 after deductible and a final payment for property apportionment of $260,000.
There are potential sources of revenue that could off set some of those costs, including a dividend payment from ERTH, but they have not been included in the budget because they are not guaranteed.
The town is starting to work on building reserves so it can self-finance capital projects in the future and the budget includes a total net transfer to reserves of $220,000, which is $50,000 more than 2011.
On Tuesday, council reinstated some grants to organizations that it reduced in earlier deliberations and added $25,000 for signage at the 401 entrances to Ingersoll.
Members of the public had an opportunity to express their thoughts on the budget during the meeting and former Ingersoll town clerk Elaine Clark wanted to know the total amount of the town's debt and what its debt repayment limit is. Those numbers weren't readily available, but $743,315 in the 2012 budget is tagged for debt repayment. Clark said the amount the town has borrowed is a concern.
Former Ingersoll CAO Ted Hunt questioned the wording of a bylaw for the town to borrow $1.47 million from the county “for certain purposes.”
“I'm sure the residents of Ingersoll have no idea what that's all about,” he said.
Hunt also asked why Victory Memorial School (VMS) is not being advertised for sale by the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) when other shuttered schools in town are.
“I'm asking council, are you going to buy VMS? Because I see nothing in the budget to put toward that, or are you going to borrow to buy it?”
CAO Darell Parker confirmed the town is working with the school board on possible future uses for VMS.
“Is it our intention to buy it? No.”
Hunt said he has heard some of the ideas being considered for the school, including as a college or university facility. But he doesn't see them as an economic generator and suggested the school site is the ideal place to extend the commercial district.
He also questioned the number of festivals the town is involved in every year.
“We have festivals for everything,” he said. “There's nothing wrong with one or two, but I think we've gone overboard.”
It cost $25,000 to run Santa's Festival Village at the Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum, Hunt pointed out, and there are unknown labour and electricity costs associated with the town's WinterLights program.
“I'm just wondering if some of this is really benefiting our town or are we trying to be something we're not?”
Between all the town departments,. it costs the town nearly $600,000 a year to run Fusion, Hunt said.
“That, to me, is an awful lot of money. That's put a terrific burden on the taxpayers of Ingersoll. Now I'm sure it's done some good.”
Spending $60,000 on school crossing guards is also one of Hunt's concerns as is the town's plans for a 10-megawatt solar farm, saying the proposed site would be better utilized as industrial property.
“You really need to take a look at that,” he said. “Mr. McGuinty's Green Energy Act says he's going to have all these jobs, but they're not there.”
Deputy Mayor Fred Freeman said many industries have knocked on the town's door.
“Dr. Oetker was supposed to be here (in Ingersoll),” he said. “And London did this thing called bonusing (to get the company to locate there).”
Freeman said the solar farm still looks favourable to bring significant revenue to the town with the low estimates at $800,000 profit for the first 15 years and $5 million a year for the last five years of its life span.
As for Fusion, Freeman agreed there is a lot of money being spent on the centre, but “I firmly believe Fusion does a lot of good. Fusion is the nth degree when it comes to a youth centre and I stand behind it.”
Ingersoll resident Tim Lobzun encouraged councillors to think outside the box and always be on the lookout for opportunities to save money.
“Please spend our money,” he said, “but please spend it wisely and always remember it's our money.”
Full budget details are available on the Internet at: www.ingersoll.ca