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Elgin County Council Highlights - Feb. 14, 2017

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A Moment of Silence For Councillor Wolfe 

Council observed a moment of silence for Councillor Mike Wolfe. Councillor Wolfe will be greatly missed by his colleagues on Council and by Elgin County staff. 

County Tax Rate Lower Than Anticipated 

At its February 2017 meeting, Elgin County Council approved a $63,929,053 operating budget, with a 4.9 per cent levy increase in County taxes representing a 2.8% increase on the average home or approximately $41. 
It is a priority of Council to maintain and expand service levels for residents whilst being able to achieve affordable taxes. The County has been able to do this, despite significant revenue losses of over $5 million in OMPF and Ford property tax, through the use of reserves and measured tax increments over ten years. The 2016 operating surplus and cost reductions in public health and social services more than offset cost increases in hydro and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) resulting in a 0.1% improvement over the previously planned increase.

In 2017, Council will continue several initiatives committed to in the 2016 Budget, including a new building for Terrace Lodge residents, investment in high speed fibre broadband, a $3.5 million grant to the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital and a Community Improvement Plan (CIP). New service improvements for 2017 include a new Elgin County Heritage Centre (museum), a $100,000 loan and enhanced lease payments to Southwold for the new library, as well as committing to ongoing funding of the Clean Water initiative.

“Council’s commitment to service is evident through the funding provided to programs and projects that are valued by the County’s residents. These projects include everything from investment in infrastructure, to support of economic development, protection of the environment, and enhancement of health care services,” said Elgin County Warden Grant Jones. 

Highlights of Council’s commitment to improving the prosperity and quality of life in our community over the next ten years include:  

  •  The County will invest over $110 million in roads, focused on timely investments in existing infrastructure to ensure the lowest possible lifecycle costs. The 2017 capital plan includes rehabilitation of Wonderland Road, Vienna Line and Sparta Line.
  • $38 million investment in our long-term care facilities
  • Over $2.5 million in economic development stimulus through funding of Elgin Business Resource Centre (EBRC) satellite offices, the Community Improvement Plan (CIP) and high speed internet (SWIFT).
  • The purchase of $3.2 million of books for libraries.
  • Environmental improvements through $400,000 commitment to the Clean Water Initiative

County Receives Accessibility Grant      

The County of Elgin has been successful in receiving $9,044.10 from the Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund. This funding will be used to make the sidewalks at Bobier Villa more accessible to residents and people with disabilities, and will improve emergency exit accessibility. The County will fund the remaining $5,267.84 which will be continued in the 2017 budget. 

Sparta Public School Alliance Presentation 

The Sparta Public School Alliance made a presentation to Council regarding the Elementary Public Accommodation Review. Council passed a resolution that supports the build of a new school in Belmont while encouraging New Sarum, Springfield, and Sparta schools be kept open.