Speech to Chamber of Commerce – April 24, 2013

A Snapshot of Carleton Place’s Financial Position Carleton Place Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Meeting April 24, 2013 (This was delivered as a PowerPoint presentation.) Good morning. I am pleased to be here speaking with members of the Chamber once again and I appreciate your getting up early to attend the event. I was tempted to steal a few good lines from Chamber member Father David Andrew’s sermon of last Sunday but I’ll stick with just mentioning that he spoke about a topic we all love to hate, particularly this time of year – taxes! I’m going to spend the next few minutes giving you a snapshot of where the Town stands financially and end with a view towards the Town budget – and taxes - for 2014. It may seem a little odd that we are talking about next year’s budget when many of our neighbouring municipalities have just set their 2013 budget – after the end of the first quarter! But this is just one of many examples that show how Carleton Place is a leader in financial stability and forward-thinking financial management. Let’s have a look at the auditor’s report for 2012 which was presented to Council in March by Howard Allen who is the auditor for many Eastern Ontario communities. Highlights of the report include the following comments: • Carleton Place is stronger financially than a year ago • Net financial assets for the Town improved over the past year • The Town is stronger in every area of provincial financial indicators:  Amount of debt – The Town currently is using approximately $5.9M to fund major projects such as Sewage treatment Plant upgrades and the new Daycare building, as well as smaller projects including the servicing of Highway 7 businesses and the arena second ice surface. Carleton Place is aggressive in debt repayment.  Debt charges – Our annual payments are much lower than many area municipalities, and we have a strong debt capacity.  Reserve to debt ratio – This ratio is an extremely important facet of Carleton Place’s financial picture. For every dollar of debt, we have two dollars of reserves unlike many municipalities within a 100 km radius whose ratio is exactly the opposite. • Carleton Place enjoys exemplary long-term planning. The Province now requires 10-year plans; Carleton Place has planned 10, 15, 20 and 25 years in advance for many years. • The Town continues to enjoy good financial management Carleton Place taxpayers benefit in a number of ways as a result of: • sound financial management practices • long-term planning in all aspects of the corporation • intelligent and strategic investment in infrastructure; 95% of our 54 km of in-ground infrastructure is newer than 25 years, placing us in the top 20% of Ontario communities. The Town owns a considerable number of buildings and other infrastructure and is constantly working to maintain and improve the facilities available to community residents. The following is a brief outline of recent upgrades: Pool – addition with rental facilities/meeting room; family change room Carambeck Community Centre – former school now houses a Community Centre, Youth Centre, before and after School Daycare programs, and the TR Leger Alternate School Arena – nearing the final payments for second ice surface debt; reviewing options for larger change rooms Canoe Club – elevator and air conditioning installed in past 4 years; Town has now taken over the operations of the Upper Hall allowing Canoe Club volunteers to focus on programs Train Station – Chamber of Commerce office is rent-free; other areas rented to local businesses Museum – new roof installed over the portico area Daycare – state of the art facility now 5 years old Town Hall – major repointing work begun on exterior Market Square – new roof will be installed this spring through a partnership with the BIA Parks and Trails – well-maintained; fully accessible children’s playground in Willoughby Park Public Works Yard – Repainted – attractively – last year; new fencing and landscaping Public Works and Parks Fleet – well-maintained; each time vehicle is used, funds are placed in reserve for replacement Above- and Below-Ground Infrastructure – 54 km of well-maintained roads, sidewalks, sewer and water piping Water and Sewage Treatment Plants – meet or exceed all stringent provincial regulations In spite of all these positive signs in our economic snapshot of Carleton Place, we do have challenges that we can’t ignore: • Continued downloading of services from the province; for example, loss of daycare spaces to all-day Kindergarten has cost us a $.5M loss in income; accessibility and drinking water standards are set by the province and we are responsible for carrying them out. What we are seeing with downloading is a measure of the provincial well-being – their debt is being handed down to us to deal with. • new reporting requirements – for example, fuel and hydro consumption reports for all municipally-owned buildings and vehicles • OMPF grants to municipality cut by the province, $120 000 last year and more to come • Increased policing costs – currently more than 1/3 of the entire Town budget, and moving towards 40% These costs are completely out of the control of the municipality. So, how do we deal with these factors which are out of our control as well as those in our control and still maintain the high levels of services expected by our taxpayers? In discussions this past week, staff and Council have identified some possible solutions: • Cut services, and/or • Reduce/freeze spending on infrastructure, and/or • Reduce/freeze spending on operations, and/or • No new projects for 2 years, and/or • Use reserves to stabilize tax-rate increases, and/or • Increase taxes (until growth catches up) As Council and Staff prepare for the 2014 Budget, these are the decisions we will be facing. This has been just a brief snapshot of where we are financially and a bit of crystal-ball gazing for next year’s budget. I’ve said it before – but it’s worth repeating – we are very fortunate to have talented, dedicated staff to assist us to make wise decisions that will keep us in a position of strength both for the long and short term.