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Midland council shaves one point off levy with $228K budget saving

Second of three-day session saw passionate motions given and deferred over user fees, police disbandment restructuring, summer student positions, big data gathering
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Knowing day three would be the big push, council measured their breaths on day two.

Midland council reconvened Thursday for the second day in a multiple-length session to discuss and ratify the 2022 budget.

An excited Coun. Bill Gordon had worked off-hours with CFO Michael Jermey to find a potential solution to the proposed 6.49 per cent town tax rate and 4.95 per cent blended total tax levy impact. It addressed the disbandment from Midland Police Services to the OPP billing model regarding 
an estimated $3.6 million recovery through the general tax levy over the next number of years.

Council voted to repay the amount over 20 years resulting in a $227,840 reduction to the tax levy this year, understanding that future councils could alter the payment amortization as they saw fit.

“So that’s a point off the levy roughly,” remarked Mayor Stewart Strathearn.

Lengthy discussion was given to a request of $160,000 by the Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe who dragged their feet in providing key performance indicators (KPI) after their deputation to council recently. Council hesitantly chose to fund the group with the provision that funds be withheld if the KPI wasn’t brought forward in the next few months.

A potential discrepancy in the operating budget and service level changes for $40,000 was caught by Coun. Cher Cunningham who inquired further. A previous motion carried by council last year addressed the hiring of two summer students, including associated training and equipment. Council deferred the discussion to day three.

Transportation analytic company Streetlight Data was approved as a middle of the road package to collect big data for traffic calming measures. Staff and CAO David Denault assured council that the $18,500 expense would save money through faster response times and more accurate placement of portable radar signs.

User fees for Midland Harbour and the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre (NSSRC) were addressed, which are proposed to increase by 50 per cent in the 2022 budget. Some members of a recent public meeting expressed concern over the increase, which was also addressed in a MidlandToday column by editor Andrew Philips.

Deputy Mayor Mike Ross proposed a motion that the user fees be adjusted for an increase of inflation plus two per cent, citing market value of other locations and venues.

Coun. Cher Cunningham spoke to general health and wellness regarding rates and fees, offering “a more granular and compassionate approach” be taken by council.

Council was divided on the matter. A vote for the motion by Ross was narrowly defeated 4-4, with Coun. Carole McGinn inexplicably absent during that portion of the meeting.

Day three of deliberations and ratifications of the 2022 budget continue Friday.

The town is asking that residents who are interested in attending the budget meetings contact the clerk’s office at [email protected] to pre-register, at which time a virtual Zoom link will be provided directly to them.

Archives of the 2022 budget discussion are available through the Town of Midland’s YouTube channel.

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Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Derek Howard covers Midland and Penetanguishene area civic issues under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada.
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