Any other year they would likely have been too late for 'asks' from the city's annual budget at this time of the year. It's a different story in Elliot Lake in 2019, though.
The Town of Espanola set its 2019 tax rate Tuesday night. Other area municipalities in East Algoma and the North Shore have also finalized their 2019 budgets and set their tax rates, or soon will. Due to staffing problems in the City of Elliot Lake Finance Department centering around the resignation of former City Treasurer Dr. Timothy Vine, last year; this year's budget process is running several weeks behind schedule.
The City of Elliot Lake Budget Committee will hold it's fourth meeting next week on the way to coming up with this year's capital and operating budgets. The tax rate is expected to be passed in June.
On Monday in a budget session that lasted for more than two hours preceeding the regular council meeting, the Budget Committee heard pitches from two community-based groups looking for cash.
Mount Dufour Ski Hill reps Tom and Devin O'Grady asked the committee for a little more than $20,000 to purchase equipment for the Terrain Park being built at the base of the main ski hills at the park.
O'Grady got a strong startup in the form of a $10,000 donation from 100 Elliot Lakers who Care, when he was selected in last year's Elliot Lake Rotary Club community funding allocation process. The cash Devin received is being used as seed money for the Terrain Park project. It's designed to give snowboarders a safe place to practice their skills close to home. The project has received financial support from ELNOS, Elliot Lake Retirement Living, the East Algoma East Community Futures Development Corporation and Serpent River First Nations. In-kind support has come from Wendell Farquhar Trucking Ltd., Mount Dufour Ski Area, Elliot Lake Ski Racers, LH Outdoor Living, Big Fish Graphics, Boogie Mountain Espanola and the Mount Dufour Ski Patrol. The project now needs community members to donate their labour, which is needed for the tree removal, landscaping, contouring and other tasks.
The Budget Committee is expected to make a decision on Mount Dufour's request once they get look at the project's budget, at the May 21 meeting.
Another group, the Collett Christmas Dinner committee, wants the city to spend $50,000 dollars to upgrade the kitchen at Collins Hall on Hillside Drive North. The group provides a free Christmas Dinner at Collins Hall for those who have no place to go every year on Christmas Day. The kitchen needs major upgrades.
Collett dinner rep Roland Aube told the committee his group wants the city to upgrade the Collins Hall kitchen with gas appliances, food steamers, plumbing upgrades and other improvements including deep fryers which would be topped with fire suppression hoods.
Based on his own experience in the hospitality industry, Mayor Dan Marchisella told Mr. Aube he was opposed to installing fryers in a facility where volunteers will be working to support charitable or fundraising events. He said only food service professionals should be working with that type of equipment.
Collett Dinner reps will meet with Elliot Lake city staff in the next few days to finalize the group's wish list and then submit it to the Budget Committee. Committee Chair Councillor Norman Mann told members that funding for the 2019 budget is expected to come mainly from grants and reserve funds since there is little appetite on City Council to introduce a significant increase in property taxes.