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County, township budgets reflect new way of thinking

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In Bill French - The Mayor
Feb 23rd, 2015
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The Mayor’s View

Springwater Council approved the 2015 Operating and Capital Budget. I congratulate our staff for responding to the new direction Council provided which was slightly different than the direction provided from the previous council. In the end we were able to approve a budget that continues providing the services that our residents need and at the same time doing so in a prudent and fiscally responsible manner.

The budget increase for the township’s portion is less than 1%. As many people know both our Deputy Mayor Don Allen and I, along with a majority of County Councillors requested that County staff revisit their budget. With some cost efficiencies realized, the County budget was shaved from 2% to 1.06%. We are of the mind that every saving must be considered. In both cases we are trying to develop a mentality of zero based budgeting rather than just focusing on a target of a fixed percentage increase. Each year will be different, but this new mentality will help us realize realistic budget and spending control.

Both the County and Springwater budgets are reflective of a new way of thinking and a keen awareness that many of our residents are on tight budgets and every increase has an effect on their ability to live a reasonable quality of life. With that in mind we considered carefully how we dealt with Springwater staff increases. There are no wage freezes as some organizations tend to do. But at the same time we felt we must control any automatic escalation of wage rates. Like many organizations, the Township has pay grids and steps in each. In the case of Springwater, without a cost of living increase, those progressing through the annual grid progression see a 3% or better increase. Typically those at the top of each grid receive a cost of living increase. Those that are at the top of each grid will receive a 1% increase this year. But being cognizant that a 1% on a $25,000 a year employee is only a $250 increase, we as a council agreed that there will also be a minimum increase. This year the minimum increase for any staff member is $500. I appreciate that council supported this approach and reflects everyone’s sensitivity that the current economy is still fragile and we cannot lose sight of this reality.

Our two recreation public consultation sessions in Elmvale and Administration Centre were well attended and the discussion and dialogue were quite insightful and will help us outline a strategy and plan for the next 20 years. A special thank you to those that participated.

This week, our Deputy Mayor and I will be participating in my first municipal conference and have meetings with a number of key Ministers on a variety of matters. I will be discussing key topics such as Springwater Park, Minesing Wetlands and Elmvale District High School. I will provide comments in future articles.

We as a council are pleased with the public engagement we are seeing at both council meetings and public information sessions. The more you engage the better we are able to respond to your needs.

During the Family Day long weekend, I had the pleasure of attending many events. The Minesing 43rd Annual Mini-Fest was a tremendous success. Special recognition goes to Citizen of the Year Carol McNabb and Youth of the Year Morgan Sturgess. Midhurst celebrated its first Pancake Breakfast, serving about 300 meals. Phelpston, Anten Mills and Grenfel repeated their annual outdoor skates, hot food and hot chocolate. Elmvale residents enjoyed the annual free skate at the arena.

We have a unique township which truly is a community of communities. Each and every one of you makes it quite special.

Contact me at 705-728-4784 ext. 2040 or my cell at 705-718-7031 or email at bill.french@springwater.ca and follow me on twitter @MayorFrench

Bill French is mayor of Springwater Township

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Mayor Bill French
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