Rideau Lakes Council passed the 2023 budget on March 6 at their regular meeting. The 2023 budget continues to underscore Council’s commitment to long-term financial planning and management, as well as targeted investments in a wide range of community assets.
Like many households, the Township faces significant inflationary pressures for key resources and inputs. Despite this, Council has limited the local tax rate increase to 3.76 percent. When combined with the County (6.87 percent) and Education rates (zero percent), it results in a combined tax rate increase of 4.35 percent.
The 2023 budget comes in just over $22.2 million, with $6.5 million invested in maintaining and improving capital assets, such as roads and facilities.
Road work will primarily focus on resurfacing a number of surface-treated roads. This includes Cedar Valley Rd, Davis Lock Rd, Harts Gravel Rd, Hunter Rd, Hutchings Rd, Opinicon Rd, Bacchus Island Rd, Tenth Concession and numerous other smaller and local roads.
As part of the regular maintenance schedule, resurfacing will extend the life of the road asset, reduce overall maintenance costs, and provide an improved driver experience for our residents and visitors. Investments in roads are prioritized based on the condition of the road and the Township’s broader Asset Management Plan.
Gravel roads will continue to benefit from the enhanced gravel re-application program. In-house and contract services will continue to improve roadside drainage, brushing, and improving sightlines for user safety.
For the delivery of core municipal services, a number of large vehicles are to be purchased in 2023. This includes a tandem plow truck, a single axle plow truck as well as a ¾ ton-based plow vehicle. These vehicles replace current assets and have been selected to provide better service and be more efficient with the application of sand/salt. Two waste collection vehicles have also been approved, needed to replace existing vehicles. This decision followed a comprehensive review of the most cost-efficient means to provide waste collection services. A rescue vehicle will also be replaced within the fire department.
Community facilities will also benefit under the 2023 budget, thanks to the generous donation from the Gerry Lowe Foundation together with 100% Parkland funding. A pump track will be completed as a key element of the in-progress outdoor recreation area at the Ronald E. Holman Municipal Complex in South Elmsley. This new recreational feature will complement the relocated and renewed branch of the Rideau Lakes Public Library. The waterfront park project in Delta will be wrapped up, with a formal opening in the late Spring.
Other facility upgrades include: a new roof for the North Crosby Community Centre, modernization and expansion of the electrical system at the Portland Harbour, mechanical system improvements at the Elgin Municipal Complex, continued improvements to Morton Community Hall, as well as boat launch rehabilitation and village sidewalk replacement and expansion throughout the Township.
Funds have been set aside as part of the 6.5 million Capital Budget to complete the acquisition of lands around the former Portland Landfill as a part of ongoing work required by the Ministry of Environment (MOE) for the Township to establish a Contamination Attenuation Zone (CAZ).
The Township’s environmental commitments continue with the expansion of the mandatory septic inspection program. In 2023, we will see the program expand from 100 inspections to 400 annually. Rideau Lakes also continues its innovative Lake Association Grant program that provides formula-based funding to support these important groups in their efforts toward conservation, research and community-led projects. In addition, we will see the second phase of the Stormwater Assessment Project, which will provide a model for improving the management of stormwater discharge across all the Township’s villages.
This year, the Township can celebrate the successful completion of a 3-year partnership between WTC and the municipality that has resulted in hundreds of homes and businesses across the Township gaining access to 1Gbs fibre and/or 50/10Mbs line of sight internet service. This historic investment commenced in 2019 following a competitive bid process, and has paid dividends in terms of business investment, quality of life and positioning Rideau Lakes as a leading rural community in the era of remote work.
Other projects to be funded in 2023 include a new corporate Strategic Plan, advancing the reconstruction of Fire Station 2 (primarily funded through insurance proceeds), an expanded Community Improvement Plan for Villages, the Zoning By-law Comprehensive Update, the Private Road Grant program, expanded by-law enforcement services, the Delta Berm Project (Phase 1), completion of the newly branded community signs, the new Cemetery Grant Program as well as an update of the Economic Development Action Plan and its continued implementation.
The Budget also provides wage increases for staff tied closely to inflation but does not add any new staff to the existing complement.
Mayor Hoogenboom remarked, “2023 was undoubtedly a difficult budget year. I commend our staff and all members of Council for their hard work and compromise. Council has done its part to bring in a budget and tax rate increase well below current inflation rates without reducing services for our residents.”
He continued, “I also championed a reduction in the United Counties budget but was unsuccessful in convincing a majority of my Counties colleagues of the need for restraint in 2023. It is the Counties 6.87 percent increase that is driving the overall rate to be higher than preferred by many.”
Overall, the tax rate in Rideau Lakes remains one of the lowest in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.