LTVCA struggling with budget cuts

LTVCA Chatham office. July 31, 2019. (Photo by Natalia Vega).

No services will be cut at the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTVCA) next year but that might change in the future.

According to LTVCA’s Chief Administrative Officer, Mark Peacock, services will remain intact in 2020 but the 50 per cent provincial funding cut to their budget — which adds up to almost $80,000 — will likely put some services and programs at risk beyond 2020. Peacock said repair and replacement of aging buildings and equipment will likely suffer in the years to come because of the provincial funding cuts.

“I’m afraid one of the things we do look at is our capital, which is money going into roofs, and buildings and the replacement of machinery and those types of things,” said Peacock.

Peacock said the conservation authority has been tightening its belt lately and could be forced to continue tightening.

“It is challenging because that does kind of gang up on you over time because you can’t always put off things,” he added. “If the province continues to cut us, then we have to look at things seriously in the years to come.”

Peacock said the LTVCA is finding it more difficult to keep pace with climate change and flooding prevention because of the provincial budget cuts.

“What we do right is significantly going to impact the community and we need to get at it now to do that and when we look at budget cuts,” said Peacock. “It really limits what we can do for future generations as much as what we can do for ourselves.”

Other pressures on the budget include higher employee benefits and insurance.

In its 2020 budget, which totalsĀ $3.2 million, the LTVCA is asking municipalities for a two percent increase — that adds up to nearly $29,000.

The local conservation authority hopes to have the budget approved early in the new year with one position being cut. Peacock said the senior technician is retiring and won’t be replaced.