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Canadian Publications Agreement No. 40727545

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Lakefield Water and Sewer budget approved

 

April 14, 2017

 

BY TERRY GILLIS

 

At Tuesday’s Selwyn Council meeting, Council approved the Lakefield Sewer and Water Budget for 2017 presented by R. Lane Vance, Manager of Financial Services/Treasurer.

In recent years, Selwyn Council has approved a one per cent levy increase in order to keep abreast of the increasing costs from Peterborough Utilities Services for the management and operation of the respective systems.

According to the Treasurer’s report, the annual increase of one per cent will ensure that the Township stays current with the increases noted above, while also continuing with short to mid-term capital improvements.

The annual rate increases for water are in accordance with the approved Lakefield Water Financial plan for water. Under the financial plan, the rates tie-in with a long term approach to capital reinvestment, take into account known increases in the operation and management fees charged by PUS, and ensure that adequate reserves are being put aside to fund future capital works.

Additionally, the report noted that the Sump Pump Inspection Program, started last year, will continue through 2017  on the west side of the Village. This program seeks to reduce sewer flows, promote environmentally sound processes and regulate the existing sewer use by-law in the Village of Lakefield.

The 2017 Lakefield water and sewer Budget will mark a change in how interest revenues are allocated and reserve interest is applied. According to the Manager of Financial Services, this change is being implemented for a number of reasons:

- To increase transparency in demonstrating that the tax based operations and water and sewer utility operations are separately accounted for and to better emphasize the user pay concept.

By becoming part of the Local Component of the County OP, Trent Lakes Council will lose some autonomy in decision making regarding the over arching policies in their Official Plan as the County planning staff and Council would have the authority to make or amend policies that apply to the Municipality of Trent Lakes. The amendment application process would shift from the local level to the County as well, resulting in less administrative work in processing applications, although the lower tier is still involved in the consultation and review of applications. Trent Lakes Council would have the opportunity to support or object to proposed policies or amendments, however the County would make the ultimate decision. This is similar to how the current Consent and Severance approval process works now. The process for Zoning By-law Amendments or Minor Variances would not change and would still be approved at the local level.

As was noted in Amanda Warren’s report, if Council opted to retain their own Official Plan, at least for now, they would not be required to review their Official Plan policies until the County review is complete and the new Official Plan is approved by MMAH. At that time, they would be required to incorporate any new or amended policies from the County and/or province and have the opportunity to review their existing policies through public consultation. Alternatively, Council could decide at that point in time to join the County Official Plan through an amendment. In this case, they would not have an opportunity to provide input into the local  component redesign during the review process.

Mayor Bev Matthews said that it sounded to her like, “short term pain for long term gain.” She commented that Trent Lakes Council always wanted this to happen.

Questions surrounding the municipality’s aggregate policies were raised. However, the Planning Technician assured Council that because of the uniqueness of the municipality, Trent Lakes would still administer their own policies.

Council agreed that by not incorporating the municipal Official Plan with the County Official Plan, they would lose the opportunity to add their input prior to and during the review process.

The deciding factor for the majority of Council members was the option to opt out of the County Official Plan at any time prior to Ministry approval. If they don’t like how the plan fits the municipality, they have the option of staying with their own plan.

The motion to support the approval of a commitment to the County Official Plan was unanimous.

- To reach out to a municipal partner investment opportunity with the ONE fund.

- Investment income will be reflected in the operating statement for water and sewer utility.

- Interest allocation for the water and sewer utility will more closely mirror actual investment income on the reserves specific to water and sewer.

- No water and sewer utility reserves will be shown in the tax budget package. This will further eliminate the perception that water and sewer users are in anyway benefiting or subsiding the taxpayer.

- Will more clearly show the tax related reserve levels available for consideration when adopting tax supported projects.

Typical maintenance projects are not included in the budget, however, larger capital maintenance items or system improvements that will extend the useful life of a capital asset are included in the capital works portion of the budget. Capital Works projects for 2017 include:

- Sewer Collection System Improvements

- George Street Pumping Station Replacement Project

- Capital improvements related to communications system at the water treatment plant

- Engineering design estimates have been included for watermain replacement along the Charlotte Street construction area.