Sunday, June 18, 2017
That would be my dad.
I don't often mention special occasions and holidays here but felt that a huge Happy Father's Day to my dad was in order.
Thanks for everything Dad. Thanks for all of the amazing times and wonderful memories that I have locked in my mind for the rest of my days. Thanks for always being there when I needed something. Thanks for being the best sports coach anyone could ever have. Thanks for having the tolerance to go with my friends and I for a week every summer into the wilds of northern Ontario for a scout camp/week long party. Thanks for the coolest family road trips of places that most of the details are now lost, but the awesomeness of the moments are still fresh. Thanks for putting up with me when I wasn't making the best educational or career choices for myself that I should have, but had faith that I would bounce back and land on the right path. Eventually. Thanks for being so great that my sons recognize it in you too.
Most of all. Thanks for teaching me that being a good father isn't easy, but it's necessary. It doesn't pay well at the time, but the payoff in the end is priceless.
You've taught me that in order to build a massive clear bright future for our entire species, we have to take these little blocks that are right in front of us, plant them in the right place and hope that they take root as long as we nourish them properly.
I'm confident that most of what Hayley and I became in our adult lives is a credit to the way you raised us.
Without the guidance of our parents we likely would not have been as prepared as we were.
Happy Father's Day dad. I love you. Thanks for everything. xo
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Your Worship, fellow Councillors and residents it is my privilege to present to you the 2017 General Operating, Utility and Capital Budgets for the Village of New Maryland.
In the 2017 General Operating Fund Non-Tax Revenue Budget we were able to generate a total Non-Tax Revenue of $317,083. Our tax base only increased at a rate of 0.0027%, resulting in a new tax base of $341,991,050. This represents an increase in revenue of only $113 from the base.
The 2017 General Operating and Capital Fund Expenditure Budget will be $4,536,859 which is an increase of $114,259 over the 2016 amount.
General Government Services will only increase by $967 to $889,094.
Protective Services expenditures will be $1,027,220, an increase of $15,695 over 2016, which includes the R.C.M.P. increase of $13,982, Emergency Measure, Building Inspection and Fire Department costs.
Transportation Services expenditures will be $594,941, an increase of $4,566, of which the snow removal contract was the main driver.
Environmental Health Services expenditures will be $256,500, a reduction of $1,900 for garbage collection tonnage.
Environmental Development Services expenditures will be $157,332, a reduction of $346.
Recreation and Cultural Services expenditures will be $619,949, a reduction of $15,592. The main drivers were personnel cost reductions and a reduction in grounds maintenance costs at the New Maryland Centre.
Fiscal Services expenditures for debts will be $396,910 a reduction of $1,904. This section includes Interest on Long Term Debt and Principal Instalments. This expenditure includes the capital costs for the Gravenstein culvert and the paving project in Castle Acres debentures being issued.
For 2017 the General Capital Fund will be $594,913, an increase of $112,773. Of the total Capital $198,580 has been allocated to Transportation projects, $76,000 has been allocated to Recreation projects, $130,000 has been allocated to the Fire Department and EMO, $7,500 has been allocated to General Government, $142,833 has been allocated for Infrastructure Replacement Reserve, $21,000 has been allocated to a Municipal Plan Review Reserve and Solar Panel project, and $19,000 has been allocated to a site restoration and Specification for Developers review.
In response to the infrastructure deficit, as made apparent through PSAB (Public Sector Accounting Board), Council has again stepped up to the plate in terms of continuing to address this deficit in order to protect the longevity and sustainability of the municipality by setting aside additional funding of $142,833 which equates to just over 4¢ on the rate. This funding will be placed into a reserve for future infrastructure replacement.
This being said, the overall General Operating Budget increased by a total of $1,486 or 0.04% while the General Capital Budget increased by $112,773 or 23.39%, which is reflective of the ever-increasing capital demands on the municipality.
At this juncture I would like to point out that since 2011 the Village has lost $194,966 in revenues through reductions in Unconditional Grant funding from the Province of New Brunswick. In fact, since 2011 the Village has lost $219,966 through reductions in the Unconditional Grant, Provincial and Federal Student funding, as well as Fine Sharing Revenue. This represents a significant reduction in the Village’s revenue, one that neither staff nor Council have any control over. Each cent of the rate represents $34,199 of revenue for the Village. Therefore, the combined reductions since 2011 equates to 6.43¢ on the rate, and if you add in the negative impact of the base reduction for 2016 of $20,457 this equates to 7.03¢ on the rate that has been lost, a loss the Village has to contend with. Faced with this challenge, Council and staff have worked diligently to control costs and reduce where they could without impacting services. We will continue to vigorously review program costs and services throughout 2017 to identify various options available for consideration. In 2017, as a result of the comprehensive study on the Village’s storm water system, we identified potential flood areas that could pose risks to people, property and public health and safety. As a result, residents will see increased capital spending earmarked for new or upgraded storm water infrastructure. With increased demands on the Village to deal with these deficiencies, we want to be transparent about the associated costs and where those funds will come from. Because of the nature and scope of such projects, each will involve substantial borrowing and the additional costs from this borrowing will need to be reflected in future tax rates as we cannot afford to expand or upgrade this infrastructure without doing so.
Over the past several months, staff and Council have worked diligently together in order to bring forward a budget that not only addresses the sustainability of the Village but also affordability for our residents and I believe that this budget has managed to do both.
Therefore, with a total expenditure of $4,536,859 less the Non-Tax Revenue of $317,083 and less the Unconditional Transfer of $6,163 and a Municipal Tax Base of $341,991,050 we are left with a Tax Rate for 2017 of $1.2321 per $100 of assessment. This represents an increase of 2.49¢ on the rate or a 2% increase. To put that into perspective, for every $100,000 of assessed value this increase would represent $24.90 for the year compared to 2016 assessments. On an average home value of $250,000, residents would see an annual increase of $62.25 in their property tax bill or an increase of $5.19 per month.
The Village of New Maryland’s 2017 Utility Operating and Capital Expenditure Budget will be $1,191,585 which represents an increase of $35,302.
Water supply and Treatment costs will be $250,822 which represents an increase of $531 over the 2016 amount. This increase is due mainly to increases in power and pumping costs.
Sewage Collection and Treatment costs will be $319,527, which represents a reduction of $22,376 over the 2016 amount. This reduction is primarily due to decreases experienced in sewage treatment and disposal costs.
Fiscal Services costs equal $347,742, which is a reduction of $2,586 over the 2016 amount.
The following reserves will be made: $50,000 for future maintenance of the Waste Water Treatment Plant; $13,420 for replacement of water meters; and $20,000 for future maintenance of the Water Tower.
The Utility Capital requirements for 2017 are $189,474, representing an increase of $59,593 over the 2016 amount.
On the utility revenue side, under the heading Other Revenues from Own Sources results in a total of $126,771. This leaves a balance of $1,064,814 to generate from user fees. Water service will be charged at $1.38 per cubic meter (an increase of 4¢ per cubic meter), plus a flat fee of $37 (an increase of $1 per quarter) and a meter fee of $5 per quarter (no change). Sewerage service will increase to $512 per year which represents an increase of $16. This is the second increase to the user fees which were identified previously as part of the Village of New Maryland’s 5 Year sustainability program. For the average household with both water and sewer services this will amount to an annual increase of $28.00 or $2.33 per month.
In conclusion I would like to acknowledge the hard work of our Treasurer (Scott Sparks) for being patient in helping to finalize the numbers on Council’s behalf. I would also like to thank our Chief Administrative Officer (Cynthia Geldart), Department Heads, and my fellow Councillors and Mayor for their dedication in helping to prepare this budget.
Staff and Council have worked diligently for several months on this budget and it comes as a result of numerous meetings, debates and studies being completed. I believe this budget reflects recognition of the burden taxes and fees have on residents but at the same time, seeks to balance the need to ensure the long-term viability of the Village, the value of resident’s property and the public health, safety and enjoyment of residents who live and work here.
It is an honour to submit the Village of New Maryland’s 2017 Operating and Utility Budgets for your consideration and approval.
At this point I would like to introduce the motions to adopt the 2017 Budgets.
During the discussion prior to voting on the Budget motion, I provided the following comments:
During the election campaign I told residents that I would work to keep our taxes as low as possible. To promise that we would not raise taxes would have been irresponsible in my opinion. I am satisfied that Council and Staff have worked very hard on this budget to ensure that we use Village tax dollars in a responsible manner and have sorted projects and expenses in a proper prioritized manner.
I acknowledge that the Village and its infrastructure are approaching a period that replacement and repairs are going to be necessary more frequently due to the rising age of Village assets. This is just a fact of life.
This certainly does not imply that poor workmanship or materials were originally involved by any means. On the contrary. I would say that we have been doing quite well to date and that the staff and Village engineers have done a great job of staying on top of monitoring Village assets. For this I congratulate them on a job well done.
One factor that cannot be ignored regarding our infrastructure is the change in weather events. The increase in severe weather events around the world and at home has resulted in our implementation of the Storm Water Management Plan – a document which details both the need to increase the capacity of our infrastructure as well as the significant costs involved. To ignore the need for financing of these costs would be detrimental to our community.
Costs and expenses for the operation of our services will also continue to rise. Accordingly, the sources of the needed income will need to keep up. This year’s budget increases the tax rate of the Village for the first time in 4 years. All members of Council would prefer that the increase was not necessary. We are after all, Village residents as well. But we agreed that this increase is fiscally responsible and manageable.
I believe that the Councils of the past have worked very hard and diligently and this Council is continuing this tradition.
I would like to thank the staff and my fellow members of Council for the spirit of cooperation and making this process go smoothly.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
It is what it is
I hate to be the one to say this but even though many are not happy with the US election results, this is the democratic process in action. The voters have spoken and like it or not it is what it is.
Protests and flag burning may make some people feel better for a short time but they won't change the results.
I may not agree with how some people cast their votes but many years ago an awful lot of people who we will never get to personally thank fought for our rights to vote as we please and I would challenge anyone who wants to take that right away.
The US Electoral College and election system is one of the wildest systems I have ever seen but it was created by a group of people much smarter than I am and has been in place for over 200 years.
What everyone CAN do is to become involved. Hold the elected representatives accountable and show them that you are watching and paying attention and they should stay on the proper course of decency and good.
Even better, do as I have done. Run for office and keep an eye on things from the inside.
Sunday, October 9, 2016
Saturday, September 17, 2016
I was just driving home after dropping the boys off at a friend's house a few minutes ago.
I had the radio on and the song "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin came on.
As I listened the song made me feel sad as it always does.
This sadness is for a couple of reasons. The story of the song is a father who was too busy with things in his life that he didn't take the time to spend with his son as he was growing up.
Also, I always feel sad when I think how the world was robbed when Harry Chaplin died at only 38 years old.
However, my sadness is NOT from feelings that I missed out on the cool things in my boys' lives.
Sometimes the boys may tell you that Cheryl and I were there too much and right in the thick of things.
I confess that there were a few occasions during my first term on Village Council that I had to miss a hockey or baseball game or needed to have Cheryl take Tyler to his weekly piano lesson because I had to be somewhere.
When I decided not to reoffer in 2012, the main reason was that I would be available for everything that came up.
And I was.
When Braydon had a paper route for a couple of years, the two of us got up together bright and early and were ready when the papers arrived.
His route was in another neighbourhood a fair distance away so we needed to drive to get there.
We had that paper route down to an art. We both knew what houses got papers and where the they wanted them.
There were many times that we were driving through huge piles of snow that the plows hadn't had a chance to get to yet.
But we made sure that the papers got to the customers.
Many times the papers were delayed in reaching us and it drove us nuts.
Braydon took such pride in his commitment to that paper route.
Of course this made me very proud of him as well.
He and I still talk about the paper route days as quality time we spent together and miss them.
Just as Tyler and I remember the days of driving to piano his lessons every week and having dinner together afterwards.
These were some of the good times we've had so far.
I think I can say with confidence that many years from now our sons are not going to say "I wish that my mother/father/parents had been there more for us".
We have been and will always be there for them.