By Chad Ingram
Algonquin Highlands councillors received an asset management plan for the township during an Oct. 15 meeting, that plan recommending tax levy increases to help the township manage the replacement of assets.
The provincial government has mandated that municipalities create asset management plans, which are essentially inventories of capital assets and a strategy for their maintenance and replacement over time.
Algonquin Highlands hired Watson & Associates Economists Ltd. to compile its plan, which Mayor Carol Moffatt noted at last week’s meeting was almost two years late.
“It’s been many months delayed, even prior to COVID, and it subsequently has delayed a number of our conversations and capital project discussions,” Moffatt said.
Peter Simcisko, who presented the plan to council via online conferencing app Zoom, said there had been some delays in the on-the-ground assessment work.
“It needs to be recognized that asset management isn’t just this plan itself, it is a practice and a journey that will continue to years to come,” Simcisko said.
As for Algonquin Highlands’ assets – roads, facilities, bridges, culverts, vehicles and equipment – their total replacement value is $70 million. The township’s roads network constitutes 49 per cent of that; its facilities 28 per cent; its vehicle fleet nine per cent; equipment eight per cent; and bridges and culverts approximately six per cent.
“The average condition state of the township’s roads was found to be good,” Simcisko said, explaining that roads are evaluated based on a pavement condition index. As for its facilities, Simcisko said there were a number of facility components in poor or very poor condition. The plan shows these components include assets such as flooring and roofing at a number of buildings, as well as assets such as aging retaining walls, plumbing fixtures, etc. The replacement value of the components totals about $1.5 million.
As for the financial strategy contained in the plan and meant to fund the ongoing maintenance and replacement of capital assets, it includes sections on transfers from capital reserves as well as tax levy increase recommendations. From 2021 through 2026, that recommendation is an annual increase of 6.49 per cent, and from 2027 through 2040, an annual tax levy increase of 3.5 per cent.
“I don’t think there are any surprises in terms of condition assessments, from my perspective, I think the numbers were maybe a bit of a surprise,” Moffatt said. “And certainly the levy increases that are proposed are very different than our historical increases, so we’ll have to get our heads around that.”