ERCA Approves 2023 DRAFT Budget Priorities

Friday, April 14, 2023

The Essex Region Conservation Authority has unanimously approved its 2023 Draft Budget for circulation to its governing municipalities. The budget totals just under $9.7 million, and includes a levy request of $3,768,235. This is equivalent to $24.33 per household, based on a $300,000 current value assessment, and represents a small increase of $1.17 per household. 

“The 2023 draft budget prioritizes repair and replacement of greenway infrastructure like bridges and culverts, and urgent repairs needed to the museum and heritage buildings at the John R. Park Homestead which were identified in preliminary asset condition reports last year,” said Tim Byrne, CAO. “While still subject to further analysis, these reports and cost estimates reveal a potential infrastructure deficit that exceeds $1million at the Homestead and $1.8million for replacement of Greenway crossings over the next five years.” This budget directly responds to these infrastructure needs and risks with a $325,000 budgeted transfer to the infrastructure reserve and a redirection of $500,000 of levy from land acquisition to the Homestead preservation reserve fund.  

In addition to infrastructure issues, ERCA is also experiencing inflationary pressures, escalating insurance costs and declines in permit application fees. Budget pressures related to mandatory services exceeded $600,000 but between offsetting items of $282,250 and levy savings of $144,303 related to non-mandatory programs, the total levy increase was limited to $227,932. 

The $9.7 million budget includes mandatory program expenses of nearly $6.2 million, funded with approximately $2.9million of municipal levy. Operating expenses of approximately $2.6 million are included for projects and programs identified as non-mandatory such as tree planting on non-conservation authority owned lands, operations at Holiday Beach and the John R. Park Homestead, water quality monitoring, agricultural extension services, community outreach programs and others.  

These beneficial non mandatory programs are funded with only $358,000 of levy but attract significant provincial and federal funds. Over the past six years, the local investment of levy and municipal special project funding of $10,315,527 has attracted an investment of $10,978,866 from other sources, or $1.06 for every $1 of municipal investment for these services.  

“As an integrated watershed management agency, ERCA’s five service delivery areas have developed over decades, and include beneficial programs and services that support our collective goals and objectives related to ecological, social, and economic health,” added Byrne. “While the Province has identified the services it deems mandatory, to best serve the residents of this region and achieve a future of environmental sustainability, ERCA should also continue to deliver the ancillary programs that impact the overall well-being, health and safety of the region and its citizens.” 

The Essex Region Conservation Authority is a public sector organization established by the Province of Ontario and governed by local municipalities. For 50 years, it has provided the organization and delivery of programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources in watersheds in Ontario. 

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