Northeast Town has big plans for 2020 budget

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NORTHEAST TOWN – The Northeast Town council reviewed its 2020 capital draft budget earlier this month with over $10,450,734 in potential projects slated for the coming year.

Under general government, $8,500 has been slated for a computer accounting software upgrade, to be taken from the computer equipment reserve; $3,196 will be spent on new cemetery fencing (taken from reserves); and $20,000 is the projected cost of a new council chambers sound system. CAO Dave Williamson explained that the current fixed microphone system means the facility gets less use than it has potential for due to the inability to move furniture, which includes the mic wiring. The new sound system would include lapel microphones for the councillors and mayor.

For roads construction, $2,239,738 is the projected cost of the Highway 6 connecting link rehabilitation with $2,015,764 of that coming from grant money. The $223,974 will be made up with funds from the yearly provincial Gas Tax.

Work to the Green Bush road is also on the draft list to the tune of $484,000, $451,718 of which will come from a government grant and $32,282 will come from the working capital reserve. Orr’s Sideroad will receive a grade lift in 2020 with the full amount covered through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF).

Seven roads are on the list for surface treatment (chip and tar) next year: Green Bay Road, which will also include a lift and resurface and the placement of a flex beam, $138,000 to be covered by the Gas Tax; Newby’s Bay Road, $14,000 to be covered by the Gas Tax; Orr’s Sideroad, $40,000, $30,000 of which will come from gas Tax funds and $10,000 from OCIF; Vankoughnet Street East, $42,000 from the OCIF; and Dupont, Hayward and Red Mill Road in Little Current at $30,000, all of which will be covered by the OCIF.

The Meredith Street drain, a holdover project from 2018, will be finished in 2020 for $60,000 to be taken from the working capital reserve.

Under the heading ‘sidewalks,’ $20,000 has been allotted for the repair of the downtown interlocking stone sidewalk. Mr. Williamson noted to council that the sidewalk, especially near The Expositor Office, is becoming more and more of a hazard.

Draper Street, from the public school to Manitowaning Road, is also on the list for $110,000 with full coverage from the Gas Tax.

“Last year we (staff) argued adamantly that this was not a priority,” Mr. Williamson said. “This year we’ll argue just as adamantly that it should be a priority due to the Tim Hortons that will be located at the end of the street.”

The CAO further explained that the sidewalk will take a dip and move close in to the public school fence to keep away from the school bus loading zone. There is already a Draper Street sidewalk in place from Highway 6 as far as Little Current Public School. The upgrade will see this continued over to Manitowanng Road.

For public works, the capital budget includes an upgrade from the analog radio system to digital for $21,740; a new grader to replace the 1980 model, for which the municipality is having trouble finding parts, for $380,000 (the municipality maintains 41 kilometres of gravel roads); and the replacement of the Sheguiandah sand dome for $350,000, for which the municipality hopes to receive a grant. It was noted by the CAO that those projects that do not have a guaranteed funding source are often not done.

For environmental services, the water main replacement will take place on Meredith and Worthington Streets at $250,000 which will be covered by the Little Current water reserve. The $3 million lagoon upgrade should also get underway in 2020 with $1 million coming from grants, $250,000 from reserve and $2,000,000 from ‘other,’ in this case a bank loan to be repaid by users of the system.

Rec centre projects for 2020 include: a new ice plant at $300,000, air conditioning system at $65,000 and net metering system at $110,000, all of which would be covered by modernization funds.

The capital budget also includes $108,000 for the back parking lot to be paved (contingent on funding); $20,000 for work on the front entrance and walkway, to come from the working capital reserve; and $1,988,600 for a rec centre addition, $1,458,240 of which the municipality hopes to see covered by OCIP. The remaining $530,360 would be taken out in a loan.

Mr. Williamson explained to council that the project would mean a 60-by-50-foot addition to the rec centre on its east side that would include an indoor play area for children and exercise place for seniors.

Under ‘parks,’ $10,000 would come from the working capital reserve for the replacement of aging outdoor ‘porta potties;’ $150,000 for new fencing and seating for the ‘A’ ballfield at Low Island (contingent on Jays Care Foundation funds); and $20,000 for work on the Low Island washrooms, to come from the working capital reserve.

At the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah, $10,000 has been earmarked for archaeological site marketing, $28,000 for permanent washrooms and $9,960 for windows, all at a net cost to the town.

At Spider Bay, $250,000 has been slated for Pier 6 dock revitalization, subject to grant; the replacement of 20 yard light heads at $20,000, subject to grant; renovations to the marina office/washrooms at $30,000, to come from the Spider Bay Marina reserve; and $20,000 to hard surface the road, also from the Spider Bay Marina reserve.

Lastly, $50,000 was marked for electrical upgrades and landscaping stones for the downtown waterfront, to come from the waterfront reserve.