Govern in a Fiscally Responsible Way Part 2
Govern in a fiscally responsible way which enhances the community’s financial health. What does this statement really mean? To be fiscally responsible one must be prepared to manage the assets of the community in a way which results in financial strength and economic growth.
Let’s look at an example, the East Fonthill development and the new Community Centre and let’s go back a few years. The Council of the day had identified a need for the community; a new Community Centre and they recognized that they needed land to accomplish this goal. An opportunity arose which was deemed to be affordable and they proceeded to invest in the 32 acres in East Fonthill. Their analysis indicated that the price was right, the debt was manageable, and that the impact on taxes was reasonable (fiscally responsible). The investment in that land was the first step in bringing forward the Town’s portion of the East Fonthill Development and the Meridian Community Centre. A number of years ago the current Council decided to again look at the needs of the community. Should we keep the land and develop a community centre. Detailed studies were undertaken; a business plan which involved the financing of the project and the management of the project was developed. As the plan unfolded; It was determined that investment in the servicing of the Town lands and the provision of infra structure to service the northern sector of the East Fonthill Development was needed to stimulate growth, to increase values and to bring forward a development which the Community could embrace. Council and Staff determined to invest through the use of current assets and debt into the project and to proceed. What has been the result?
- Short term cash flow issues which were anticipated and are manageable
- The growth of the Town’s long term debt – this debt is locked in at historically low rates and as such the community is protected from interest rate hikes
- The development of River Estates, Fonthill Market Place, Wellspring Niagara, the Development of an apartment complex which will provide seniors’ affordable housing, the future development of a medical Hub
- The development of the Meridian Community Centre
- The provision of investment into the economy of our Town and the Niagara Region of millions of dollars by the private sector
- The creation of jobs in design, engineering, and construction, and in the retail and the service sectors.
- The growth of the tax base for the community (est. to be currently in the order of $1 million dollars per year and growing)
- A large increase in the value of the Town owned land; currently valued at between $600,000 and $800,000 per acre.
The list goes on. Was the original investment prudent? Were the subsequent investments fiscally responsible? Did they add to the wealth and stability of the community for the future? The answer is of course yes to these questions.
We must now enter into a phase of reaping what has been sown. We must continue to manage our assets prudently and we must invest in rebuilding our cash reserves, managing our debt, maintaining our infra structure efficiently and to providing our core services economically. I believe the Town is in an excellent position to enjoy the fruits of the vision and the labor of past Councils. It is one of my Visions, that the newly elected Council and I will move forward with a plan to enhance the sustainability and stability of our community for the future.
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