As the 2013 draft budget deliberations wind down to their planned
conclusion on Feb. 11, councillors continue to pick through proposed
expenditures to lessen the levy increase impact, and targetted the
summer day camp program.
According to the budget estimates, the difference between revenues and
expenditures is about $35,000 in the red. Council is currently hovering
over 8 per cent in the tax levy increase, which would increase the
average tax bill by about $123 over last year. Approximately $204,000
in expenditures, triggers a one per cent increase to the levy.
Summer day camps have been operated by the municipality for years in
each of the urban areas in some form, but ran into major problems in
Alliston a couple summers ago, when one of the young participants had
wandered away without supervision. Police were called, and a small
claims court action followed.
"Day camps by their very nature are not going to be an activity that's
going to create a surplus for you, or are you going to have a profit.
These programs are based on taking in as much revenue as you can to
offset the actual cost of providing programs for young children who do
not normally access other activities. A lot of kids access sports,
these are not sport related activities," explained Ray Osmond, New
Tecumseth's Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture during Monday
night's budget working session. "What we found this past year,
is that we've had to rebuild the whole summer program area. We're
trying to rebuild our credibility, provide and offer more activities
for youth. We've had to change our staff contingent we've had to change
our skill level and so forth. We saw that change kick in big time in
mid season last year. We anticipate that we will have a better program
Ward 3 councillor Paul Whiteside noted that he didn't expect the
program to turn a profit, though the split between the cost to operate
it, and what it takes in, was a concern.
"I was never anticipating that we would ever make a profit, or even
break even," said Mr. Whiteside, "but what bothers me at this point is
you're estimating $45,000 in revenue, and spending just under $80,000."
Ward 1 councillor Bob Marrs wondered whether the Town's facilities
could be made available to private operators, who could operate the
camps with municipal subsidies.
"I don't think any of our programs geared toward youth are going to
generate profit, or surplus," said Mr. Osmond. "The private sector puts
fees in place to make a profit. They're in the profit business. We're
not in the profit business, we're in the business to try and recover
enough of our expenses to cover our costs, (...) We subsidize hockey,
we subsidize sports, so you've got to decide which programs you're
going to subsidize. The pool program's another one."
Ward 8 councillor Jim Stone, who had earlier in the meeting lamented
the fact that the Town's expenditures had grown by 25 per cent since
2011, and that the proposed tax increases would be a burden on seniors,
and single income households, nonetheless, suggested programs like
summer day camp, should not be sacrificed.
Mr. Stone said the day camps offer invaluable opportunities for kids,
whose families can't afford to take holidays during the summer.
"I think it's very important for development, and I think it's a time
that's very productive mentally and physically for the kids," he said,
"and I know we don't make money on it, but I'd hate to drop that one
because of that. It's an opportunity for the poor kids in our town."
The issue has been referred to a future council discussion about