/AH council talks budget priorities

AH council talks budget priorities

By Chad Ingram

Algonquin Highlands councillors discussed potential projects and priorities for 2021 during a special meeting on Nov. 26.

It’s an annual pre-budget exercise for councillors as they try to decide what will make the cut for the upcoming year’s budget. For 2021, a couple of pressures include the township’s recently received asset management plan and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“For Algonquin Highlands, it’s created some logistical and financial challenges,” chief administrative officer Angie Bird said of the pandemic. “It impacted how we provided services to the public, and obviously led to some cancellation of many of our programs. Despite this though, the township was still able to complete many planned projects throughout the year.”

Mayor Carol Moffatt noted that with mounting financial constraints, the number of projects the township is able to complete in a year might begin to decrease.

Among numerous proposed priorities for 2021 are renovations to the basement of the township’s North Shore Road office to allow additional space for staff; the creation of a contract communications position; upgrading and modernizing the township’s website; the installation of electronic live-streaming equipment in council chambers; consideration of development charges; consideration of short-term rental regulations; a formalized fire safety public education program; the creation of a new seasonal trails technician/bylaw officer position; and the reconstruction of North Shore Road.

Decisions will be made during budget deliberations. The draft budget will also include a 1.5 per cent cost of living increase for staff.