Budget talks begin in Middleton

Heather Killen
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Capital budget proposes upgrades to lights, sewer and recreational facilities
 

The capital budget for 2014/2015 is being considered and council is looking at making various upgrades to town infrastructure.

The budget discussions have started in the Town of Middleton and the talk around the table is positive.

At its committee of the whole meeting March 17, Brian Smith, acting CAO, introduced a proposed capital budget for council’s consideration. If it’s approved, this five-year plan outlines various upgrades to town infrastructure.

In coming weeks, council will also consider it operating budget for 2014-2015. The capital budget is being presented earlier than usual, in hopes that council can approve the projects to better time the tendering process with the construction season, according to Smith.

This capital investment plan proposes to improve some recreational facilities, update streetlights, sewer and water upgrades, paving, as well as the town’s contribution to the new community center and fire hall.

Prior to the budget presentation, Mark Peck, from Service Nova Scotia and Bob Adoux, from the municipal finance corporation offered an overview of the Debt Affordability accounting software being used by the town.

The province recommends this financial tool to assist councils to understand the implications of budget decisions. Middleton has been using this program for a number of years and this is a sign of strong economic stewardship, according to Peck.

This tool allows council’s to determine their appropriate debt levels and weigh the long-term effects of taking on new capital projects.  While this year’s projections have yet to be finalized, the outlook for the town’s financial picture is comparatively strong.

Mayor Calvin Eddy said in a release last week that the town is in good shape financially and council is looking forward to the discussions that will set the direction and tax rates.

“Middleton is in a stable financial situation,” he said. “While the town must plan carefully for future requirements, council and staff are continuing to work within the available funding and yet improve key facilities and programs.”

Should the town approve some of the larger capital projects, there will be some impact, but the town will be well within the acceptable debt ratio guidelines set by the province, according to Peck.

“We think Middleton is in a good position to deal with the immediate financial challenges ad begin to plan for the future,” said Mayor Eddy.

If the capital plan is approved as presented, this year residents can expect to see upgrades to the metering capacity of the town’s water system.  The streetlights will also begin the transition to LED lights. Some of these lights are being changed by choice, others by provincial regulation, according to Smith.

Upgrades to the sewer piping and pumping are also on the list. A sewer main across Eel Brook is due for replacement, and the sewer pumping station that services Brooklyn St. and the Industrial Park is on the list for upgrades.

The town is also working with the Rotary Club to construct a new splashpad , Staff are also asking council to consider replacing the old tennis court building with washrooms and a storage facility over the next several years.

Another big ticket item proposed in the five-year budget is the town’s contribution to the new fire hall/community center. This item is listed under the 2015/2016 budget.

 

Organizations: Rotary Club

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Eel Brook, Brooklyn

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