Champlain Township held a budget meeting on December 8, 2020 and has a by-law on its January 14 regular meeting agenda to approve its 2021 budget estimates and to set the annual remuneration of council.
The draft budget reflects a 3.7 per cent increase in the amount of taxes to be collected in 2021, translating into a 2.5 per cent increase in the tax rate.
The cost of council for 2021 is projected at $320,917, a one per cent increase from the 2020 budgeted amount of $316,863.
Administration revenues for 2021 are projected to show a 10 per cent increase, from $1,428,650 to $1,573,450; the increases are accounted for by a four per cent increase in revenue from the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund ($42,500), an additional $5,000 in investment interest, and a $127,000 projected surplus from 2020 which will be carried over into 2021, offsetting revenue decreases for a net increase of $144,800, or 10 per cent over 2020.
Administration expenses are expected to total $1,369,036 in 2021, representing a two per cent increase from $1,337,300 budgeted costs in 2020.
Fire department costs are projected to increase by 33 per cent in 2021 over the 2020 budget. The lion’s share of this increase is represented by an anticipated $15,000 in professional fees and an increase in full-time salaries from $1,100 in 2020 to $95,000. The municipality has just hired a full-time fire chief to supervise both the L’Orignal and Vankleek Hill fire departments.
Fire department revenues are anticipated to decrease by seven per cent, or $4,600, an amount which is mostly accounted for by a reduction in the expected fire fees to be paid by Champlain Township by other municipalities ($5,000), offset somewhat by a $400 increase in building rental fees.
The township is anticipating that policing costs will decrease by five per cent, with an overall impact of a one per cent decrease. Payment by the United Counties of Prescott and Russell to Champlain Township for court security fees will decrease in 2021, according to the draft budget, to $299,797, from the 2020 budgeted amount of $378.248. This is a 21 per cent decrease in revenue for this item.
While expenditures are expected to increase by five per cent for the township’s building department, revenues are expected to increase by eight per cent, resulting in an overall increase of only one per cent for this department.
The by-law enforcement department is anticipating a five per cent decrease in overall cost, in keeping with an anticipated 20 per cent decrease in revenues, which were $2,500 in 2020 (projected revenues for 2021 are $2,000). Expenditures of $117,470 are anticipated, which will mean a six per cent decrease from $126,550 budgeted for 2020.
The roads department is anticipating a 12 per cent increase, from $595,744 budgeted in 2020 to $669,820 budgeted for 2021. Likewise, bridges and culverts is expected to increase by 18 per cent, from $39,300 budgeted in 2020, to $46,520 in the 2021 draft budget.
Other items which each have a separate budget include grass mowing (rural), brushing and trimming, ditching, catch basins and gutters, debris and litter pick-up, grass maintenance (urban), sidewalk and curb maintenance, patching, sweeping, cleaning, grading, dust layer (application), grading, scarifying, summer patrol, gravel resurfacing, snow plowing and removal, sanding and salting, snow fence, culverts, winter patrol, safety devices, equipment, locates, fleet maintenance and street lighting as well as building maintenance.
Parks and recreation administrative costs are projected to increase by 23 per cent, to $337,351 in 2021, compared with the $274,700 budgeted in 2020. The largest part of the increases are attributed to full-time salaries (an increase of $16,733), sick leave and vacation ($24,486) and employee benefits ($22,142).
L’Orignal Marina costs are expected to decrease drastically in 2021. An agreement to lease the marina to a private company (Riverest Inc.) is included in the Champlain Township January 14 agenda. In 2020, expenses budgeted for the marina totalled $181,085, with revenues of $173,368, leaving a net revenue of $7,717. In 2021, marina expenses are expected to be $18,500, which is also the anticipated 2021 revenue.
The Vankleek Hill Community Centre is expected to cost ratepayers about nine per cent more in 2021. Revenues are expected to drop by 19 per cent in 2021, to $171,250, down from $211,500 budgeted in 2020, representing a $40,250 decrease. Expenditures are anticipated to be $522,009 in 2021, a $10,822 decrease from $532,831 budgeted in 2020.
For the L’Orignal Campground, revenues are expected to increase by 31 per cent in 2021 to $143,700. Expenses are anticipated to increase by three per cent to $169,808, reducing the cost of the campground to taxpayers by about 52 per cent, compared to what was budgeted in 2020.
Champlain Library is expected to show a five per cent increase in revenues to $26,747, an increase from $25,369 in 2020. Library expenses are anticipated to be $229,808 in 2021, a three per cent increase from the 2020 budgeted amount of $222,928. The Champlain Library has been offering curbside service throughout most of the pandemic, but has been closed to the public due to what is being described as a safety issue, following a confidential report that was prepared for council. This report is not public. An amount of $150,000 has been earmarked in the township’s capital budget, but what these funds are for has not been made public.
Economic development is expected to cost about 24 per cent more in 2021, but the increase is attributed almost entirely to $50,000 allotted to the Community Improvement Plan. Salaries and employee benefits have decreased by 23 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.
Planning and zoning is expected to cost about 19 per cent more in 2021. While full-time salaries have increased by 53 per cent, the cost of contracted services has reduced by 64 per cent, or $22,500. The municipality now has its own full-time planner. Revenues for the planning and zoning department are expected to decrease by 12 per cent.
Community grants are expected to total $32,095 in 2021. In 2020, several organizations returned their grant amounts to Champlain Township because events or planned activities did not take place due to the pandemic. At the township’s December 8 budget meeting, West Hawkesbury ward councillor Gerry Miner asked that the amount budgeted for his conference fees be transferred to the community grant budget so that all requests could be granted. An amount of $12,000 for conventions and expenses is allocated for 2021 as part of the cost of council.
Community grants listed in the draft budget are as follows:
Vankleek Hill Skating Club: $995
Arbor Gallery Cultural Centre: $500
Vankleek Hill Agricultural Society: $4,000
Vankleek Hill & District Historical Society: $4,000
Higginson Tower Committee: $4,000
Banque Alimentaire de L’Orignal: $1,000
Ancienne Prison de L’Orignal Old Jail: $7,000
Patrimoine L’Orignal-Longueuil Heritage: $3,900
Vankleek Hill Business & Merchant Association: $5,000
Porchfest Vankleek Hill: $700
Champlain Township’s regular council meeting takes place on Thursday, January 14, at 7 p.m. You can find the link to the meeting on Champlain Township’s website or can find the Information Champlain channel on Youtube.