Special Perth South Council Budget Meeting held

 Public meeting Feb. 18

By Stephanie Egelton
It’s that time of year; budget season for municipal governments. At a special meeting on Jan. 26 at the Perth South Municipal Office in St. Paul’s proved to be a lengthy discussion regarding the first draft of the 2016 Budget.
Mayor Robert Wilhelm first gave congratulations to staff for their hard work on the budget, as it’s a critical period of time in a municipal environment.
Rebecca Clothier, Treasurer for Perth South began introducing the operating budget and giving introductions on implications on the budget for 2016. It was noted that this first meeting was a viewing of the draft budget, hence council not needing to make final decisions at this time. The operating budget is currently listed at $4,653,713.
One of the first discussion points of the operating budget was advertising for the municipality. Mayor Wilhelm noted “It’s important to provide residents with info, and we are looking to be more cost effective to send the message out”. Councilor Melinda Zurbrigg agreed, but encouraged council to look into other ways of communication to residents by “keeping our green print down” by using online methods.
The current municipal office was budgeted for repairs and maintenance, and noted that other maintenance related projects on the operating budgets aren’t always accurate or anticipated when the time comes for them.
Since Perth South has fire agreements with neighbouring municipalities, council wants to look into the costs of the current agreements being in place now for fire protection services. For this year, council saw that there was a price increase from Perth East, and that St Marys was decreasing.
Another interesting discussion that council had was regarding solid waste; specifically the discussion of options of how waste in Perth South will be picked up in the future. Currently, Bluewater Recycling Association completes manual pickup for the municipality, however the budget noted the possibility of switching to an automated “wheelie bin” program for the future. Mayor Wilhelm noted that “the current system was outdated and something needed to be done”.
St Marys Hospital also requested a grant for $150,000. Councilor Zurbrigg noted that St. Marys is a great hospital, but she would feel more comfortable with a smaller grant amount but recognized that that municipalities and hospitals are experiencing a provincial shortfall.
In the Capital budget, the total is currently at $2,521,779.58 for 15 projects set for 2016. The most costly projects being stated on the capital budget are the Whalen Line, Elginfield Road, Perth Road 139 project (being shared with Lucan-Biddulph in Middlesex County) at $580,000, and Line 32 (between Road 134 and 140) at $407 088.
Perth South Council will be holding a public budget meeting for residents to attend and voice their comments on Feb. 18 at 7 PM.