Focusing on the ‘need-to-have’ items
Budgets – Springwater Township and County of Simcoe
This month we have had two meetings on our Springwater Budget. There are two aspects of the budget. One part of the budget is capital such as major roads or major equipment for fire services or public works and the other is the operational or the day to day budget to keep the township running. When we look at Capital Budgets we update a rolling 6 year plan and identify the longer term needs. In this way we can smooth out some expenditures. I would suggest that the County and Township Senior Management have followed the guidance provided and have focused on the “need to have” items in the budget. The County has approved the budget which represents a 2% tax hike and includes some major infrastructure investments and expanded Paramedic Services including more Advanced Care Paramedic personnel and more Rapid Response units. We look forward to finalizing our Springwater Budget by the end of January and I have asked to see if we can trim some costs to get to a similar tax rate increase. Currently we are above my comfort level. I fully support an initiative proposed by our Finance and Audit Committee to start setting aside 1% of our tax rate for future infrastructure replacement or debt retirement.
County Waste Management
The public information sessions ended with the last sessions in Hillsdale which were well attended. The County appreciates the input received and the many emails and letters sent to the County Solid Waste Management team. By the first of 2016, the County Consultants will be recommending sites for Materials Management Facility and the Organics Processing Facility. They have some options to choose from. They could recommend two separate locations or a combined facility in one location. At this point, the Deputy Mayor and I are continuing discussions with senior County Staff, the Warden and Deputy Warden and have outlined some of our concerns about the overall process. All actions to date have been approved by County Council resolution and future decisions will also be determined by County Council. Strategic Plan Update By early 2016, we as Council will launch a revised and updated Strategic Plan to continue to do the good work that this Council has done in 2015. We have had two lengthy sessions where we started with a clean slate and identified strategic issues, barriers and focused areas for the future. We are refining our vision, mission, goals, objectives and strategic initiatives for the next three years. When complete the plan will be posted and we will have a public session to unveil the plan to the public. Strategic plans in general when well done allows organizations to achieve higher goals at a faster pace and at a lower cost than those organizations that have no focused vision. To say more at this point may spoil the launch.
Recreation and Parks Master
Plan Council and staff received the draft of the updated Recreation and Parks Master Plan last week. The plan reviews the needs and proposed needs of the Township from the present day to 2030. The overall plan is sensitive to the rural nature of Springwater. It recognizes the unique character of our communities and proposes ideas to continue to support our local needs. As we grow it suggests some centralized facilities in both the north and south of the township and the addition of some services that are not currently offered. The final report will be tabled with Council in the near future.
There were a number of ceremonies throughout Springwater on Remembrance Day and your Council was active in these important events. Deputy Mayor Allen represented our township in Barrie, Councillors Hanna and McConkey attended the Springwater Park cenotaph ceremony and Councillors Ritchie, Austin and I attended the Elmvale parade and cenotaph ceremony. God bless all those that served and made our country what it is today.
Now for Some Fun Stuff
I appreciated being part of the celebration of the 60th wedding anniversary of Paul and Lois Bertram as they were joined with family friends in Elmvale. One of the more traditional rural events are the Church Suppers. Two sold out sittings took place at the Midhurst United Church and all were treated to a great home cooked roast beef dinner and locally made fresh baked pies. The township is blessed with many dedicated volunteers. Without them we would not be able to provide the services we do in our community centres, libraries and other program areas. In recognition of those individuals Springwater hosted an appreciation evening with a beautiful setting, great meal and presentation of certificates of recognition. I had the pleasure of attending the Annual General Meeting of the Elmvale and District Horticultural Society and brought greetings on behalf of the Township. The natural beauty that these dedicated folks bring to the main street and entrance ways is appreciated by all that come to Elmvale. Keep an eye on the Township website and the Springwater News for the many parades, tree lighting and other special Christmas events that are taking place between now and Christmas.
For those interested, I have provided another update on the requested compliance audit of my election expenses. You will find it elsewhere in this edition if my lawyer approves the final writings as things are getting ugly. If it is not there, phone me and I will give you an update. Keep informed and involved with Springwater by checking out our website www.springwwater.ca and especially our calendar of meetings. Also stay close to the action and read this excellent local paper, the Springwater News, and check out our regular Springwater Link and Council Corner columns. Be part of the solution and have your say. Contact me at 705-728-4784 ext. 2040 or my cell at 705-718-7031 or email at email@example.com and follow me on twitter @MayorFrench A reminder these articles are my thoughts and perspectives on issues and I am but one voice on Council. These opinions may not reflect the position of other Councillors.
Bill French is the mayor of Springwater Township