Council to receive early budget numbers

Council will receive the preliminary operating and capital forecasts for 2005 at Monday night’s regular meeting and the numbers already are showing a much-better outlook than in 2004.
“The budget process is going really well. This is the first blush through it, but it’s looking good,” Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig said Monday morning.
He noted that while last year’s first reports were showing a $2.7-million deficit, that’s clearly not the situation this time around.
McCaig said the preliminary reports show the town is looking at a shortfall of about $479,000.
This amount includes a proposed transfer to reserves of $291,000 and a contribution to capital projects of $99,750—meaning the actual deficit currently stands closer to $88,700.
“Needless to say, the initial report is less painful that last year’s,” McCaig said, adding that while the budget is still in the early stages, it looks like 2005 will be easier for both the town and its residents from a financial point-of-view.
“The big issue with the town last year was the financial mess. We have a grip on things now,” McCaig noted. “We’ve had regular financial reporting to council. We’ve been monitoring what’s going on in a timely fashion so that there’s no surprises.
“We’ve done a lot of belt-tightening this past year. We’ve been able to control spending,” he added. “The management has done a really good job in streamlining their departments.
“And treasurer Peggy Dupuis has had a tight control on everything that’s been going on.”
Monday night’s council meeting will start at 7:15 p.m. It will be preceded by the committee of the whole, which meets first in-camera from 5:30-6 p.m. before moving into the public session from 6-7:10 p.m.
Other business at the meeting will include:
•a land ambulance presentation by Dan McCormick, health services manager with the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board;
•a request from the Borderland Thunder regarding a financial sponsorship agreement;
•a financial request regarding the 2005 Northwestern Ontario ladies curling playdowns being held here Jan. 5-8;
•a membership request from the Rainy River District Municipal Association;
•a draft of the business retention and expansion plan recommendations;
•financial requests from the Business Improvement Association for the Santa Claus parade coming up this Saturday (Nov. 27);
•a financial request for the 2005 Community Summit slated for Jan. 13;
•a financial request from the “Communities in Bloom” committee;
•a recommendation from the museum advisory committee;
•Children’s Complex service contract amendment;
•a transfer of a lease agreement for space on the water tower;
•a request from the Northwestern Catholic District School Board to establish a school zone with a reduced speed limit;
•a request from the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board for “Slow Down Children Playing “ signs;
•a water drainage problem at 816 Armit Ave.; and
•a letter from Kathy Haukaas regarding the maintenance of back lanes.