EDITOR’S NOTE: Since our founding six years ago we have have made the ‘Councillor’s Forum’ section available to all members of MM Council who choose to contribute to it.
Annual Address 2017: 20 Years After Amalgamation
Each year-end, I reflect on the state of our municipality beyond the controversies of the day. I delivered this message to Council December 19, 2017.
This month marks the end of 20 years of amalgamation. How are we doing?
At present, the financial well-being of the municipal corporation is the best in the history of Mississippi Mills. The economy of Almonte is the strongest it has been since the woolen mills closed.
The 2018 budget is the sixth budget to reflect the sustainability goals set out in our Long-Range Financial Plan. Going forward people can expect rising reserves, a levelling off and decline of debt, and a smaller tax bite.
After five years of local tax increases between 3 and 5%, 2018 will be the last tough year. The 2019 budget will likely see an increase of less than 1%, maybe zero. That is what taxpayers can expect if we stay the course.
As a corporation, the municipality is getting stronger financially every year. While we still have an infrastructure gap, we now have a financial plan and structure to close that gap, even as we spend millions repairing old bridges, sewers and arenas.
The corporation and shareholders all benefit from a growing local economy. We have had 1,664 housing starts since amalgamation. Ten percent occurred this year: 165 new homes compared to 114 in 2016.
Not only did we set a record for new housing, we sold three lots in the Almonte industrial park, the biggest annual increase since amalgamation. The three newcomers are a distillery, a chiropractor and a contractor. Each brings new employment.
Business retention and growth is strong. Over the year, five new stores opened in central Almonte: E-Bikes, Mill Street Fashions, Classic Country Charm, Booo Clothing and Threadwork.
Keepsakes, Robins Nest and Music Works all have new owners. The ability of storeowners to sell a business is a sign of economic strength–investors are confident in success. Equator Coffee expanded and the Mississippi Mills Animal Hospital has started a new building.
Our town’s rural and urban charms continue to be a major asset. So many periodicals have printed positive articles about our town that we are now known north, south, east and west as a great place to visit, to buy a home and to set up a business.
We do face possible challenges. A town can grow too quickly—at a pace that can disrupt the fabric of a community, or overwhelm services. That needs watching.
And financial sustainability requires that our civic administrations, current and future, understand long range planning and adhere to the necessary disciplines.
On behalf of Council, I wish everyone a great holiday season and a prosperous New Year.