Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara at town council, January 26, 2015. (Photo by Mike Vlasveld)

Relief In Tecumseh ‘Fair Workplaces’ Bill Won’t Hurt The Budget

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara says a letter from the province assuring him its Fair Workplaces; Better Jobs Bill will not include towns like his, is a big relief.

The bill that would hike the minimum wage to $15/hr by January 1, 2018, would also have added another $2.1-million to Tecumseh’s bottom line. It would have forced towns across Ontario to make volunteer firefighters full-time and provide emergency workers, like snow plow operators, with standby pay.

McNamara feared that would add up to a double-digit increase in the budget, so he asked the province for an exemption for small towns and rural areas.

He got what he asked for.

“The bill has received a second reading, and it’s in committee. I know our president, Lynn Dolan, made a submission on behalf of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario,” says McNamara. “A lot of lobbying from individual municipalities, and obviously many councils and mayors have sent letters and resolutions into the government basically saying that they really had to really re-think this and make amendments.”

This week, town council got its first look at its 2018 budget, which calls for a 2.2% increase, or $38 more in property taxes for a home valued at $250,000.

“The discussion we had in terms of our budget would have been a whole different conversation,” says McNamara. “Even in the introduction that administration presented to us was a huge question mark on Bill 148.”

The increase could change. The town has scheduled deliberations on its budget for next week, November 21 and 22. The spending plan should be adopted on December 12.

Essex also approved its budget in principle this week, calling for a 2% increase in the general mill rate. That works out to another $28 for the average homeowner with a home valued at $183,000.

Copies of that budget will be presented to residents on November 27 in Essex, and November 28 in Harrow, with final adoption scheduled for December 18.