‘We flip and we flop’: Rideau Lakes removes excavator from budget at 11th hour

The Township of Rideau Lakes has removed an excavator from the 2024 budget, against the recommendation of staff, ahead of the final budget approval. Photo credit: Upsplash.
Posted on: February 26, 2024

Committee to recommend to council changes to budget that includes 3.5% tax levy


Rideau Lakes Township flipped on previous decisions before approving the budget with a 3.5 per cent tax levy. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, during a special municipal services committee meeting, most councillors changed their minds about the purchase of an excavator and pulled it from the budget. 

Coun. Deborah Anne Hutchings put a motion on the floor to reconsider removing the purchase of the excavator. It was seconded by Deputy Mayor Linda Carr. 

Hutchings said she agreed with the purchase, but needed more information. She said the one they have doesn’t run enough hours. There will be a new person coming to the works department this year, and she wanted to see how many hours it would run before spending money on another one. 

“I just want to put it off for a year,” she said. “I’m not saying we don’t need it.”

Mayor Arie Hoogenboom said this was “ploughing old ground. We’ve gone through this; we’ve made the decision to include it in the budget.”

The mayor said staff made a strong case for it. 

“I don’t think we should be going back and revoting on issues we’ve already decided to be in or be out of the budget,” he said. 

Treasurer Cynthia Leprade said if they didn’t have the excavator, “I believe we have to purchase a backhoe.”

The township would recognize a cost savings of about $150,000. 

Dan Chant, roads coordinator/drainage superintendent, said once spring comes, there are six employees putting stone on roads as capital projects are under way. There are going to be times when the excavator is not running. “But this time of year, you can be making twice as much time (brushing) because they have been running it through the winter and if we have the second one, we can run, we’ll be making twice as much time.”

Chant said that while there are no laws preventing spring brushing during nesting season, but they have been cautioned by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry about cutting brush in the spring.

He said he’s had a lot of calls from farmers about how the brush is scratching up their million dollar combines, and grain buggies. “It’s my recommendation that you stay with the excavator,” he said. 

Coun. Marcia Maxwell asked why they’re bringing this back up again. The excavator she said, will do more than the backhoe which they decided in January to move forward with the purchase. “We keep changing our decisions on everything and we’re never going to get this budget passed.”

Hoogenboom said they need to be cautious about ignoring the advice of staff. “They’re the ones who are working with this equipment and they’re the ones who are telling us it’s the best piece of equipment for the service demands that they’re looking for.”

The motion to reconsider the purchase of the excavator was passed with a recorded vote. Those voting for the reconsideration were Carr and councillors Hutchings, Sue Dunfield, Jeff Banks and Paula Banks, while those against were Hoogenboom and councillors Maxwell, Ron Pollard, and Joan Delaney.

This put the motion to remove the excavator from the budget. Another recorded vote was requested. 

Jeff Banks said, “I just love the press we’re going to get out of these recorded votes.”

“Well, we flip and we flop here, so there you go,” Hoogenboom said. 

The same results were seen for this vote as the committee will recommend to council at a future meeting to remove the excavator and add the backhoe to the budget. 

The committee will also recommend as amended, the 2024 budget to council, which includes a 3.5 per cent increase to the tax levy.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News