Whitewater Region council has passed its 2017 budget, balancing municipal needs without breaking everyone's wallets.
The budget represents a municipal levy increase of 3.75 per cent compared to 2016. The actual tax rates will be calculated in May and will factor in changes to the county and education levies.
Mayor Hal Johnson said council had given its staff a difficult project to balance the books while fixing the streets and plan for the future.
“The 2017 budget is an aggressive one and reflective of council’s commitment to sustainable funding for infrastructure,” he said. The township council was able to do that, thanks to having a good staff to back them up.
“I'm proud of then” he said.
The budget includes strategic investments in infrastructure including the following road resurfacing projects: Snake River Line, Turcotte Road, Industrial Park Road, Kohlsmith Road from Mansel Hill to Mineview, portions of Cedar Haven, Westross and Hydro Bay roads and the completion of a portion of Kerr Line and Cornerview Road which started in 2016.
The budget also includes a 50 per cent funding increase for gravel (to $150,000) and culverts (to $30,000). Detailed design and engineering work will be undertaken for the reconstruction of Truelove Street (Crawford to Wren), including Crawford Street (Main to Cowley) and John Street (Main to Truelove).
This will ensure the project (road, sidewalks, and water/sewer) is deemed “shovel ready” for construction in 2018.
Funding was also set aside to undertake a Fire Master Plan and fire stations assessment, and building and space needs assessments for both the Cobden Astrolabe and Beachburg arenas.
“Everything needs to be looked at, so we can see if it is best serving the needs of our ratepayers,” Johnson said. “We're the people who have been given the duty of directing the township to the future in the most efficient manner possible.”
Part of that plan involves forging closer ties with the community's many volunteer organizations, helping them out any way possible, such as securing grants and other supports.
“These are the backbone of the community,” the mayor said, adding the township hired Jordan Durocher, formally of Pembroke's recreation department, to act, among his other duties, as a liaison between all of the volunteer groups.