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GRCA approves 2008 budget of $29.1 million

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GRCA approves 2008 budget of $29.1 million

 

February 29, 2008 / grandriver.ca

 

 

The general membership of the Grand River Conservation Authority has approved a 2008 budget calling for expenditures of $29.1 million that includes money for new projects to protect water quality, learn more about water supplies, enhance natural areas and upgrade its hydro generating capacity.

 

The budget was approved by the GRCA board at its annual meeting in Cambridge on Feb. 29

 

Although the budget is up about $5.7 million from last year, most of the increase is due to special one-time projects that are being covered with grants from the province, municipalities or other sources.

 

The cost to the 950,000 watershed residents for their share of the GRCA budget this year will be about $8.54 a person.

 

Expenditures

 

Budget expenditures can be broken down into three broad categories: special projects, the base (or operating) budget and conservation area operations.

 

Special projects: $5.4 million (18 per cent of expenditures)

 

Spending on special projects this year is up considerably from the $1.7 million budgeted in 2007. Some of the projects this year include:

 

- $1.8 million for studies on water supplies in Waterloo Region and the City of Guelph, paid for by a grant from the province under the Clean Water Act

- $550,000 from the Ontario government to set up a fund that provides grants to landowners who take action to protect water quality around municipal wells and surface water intakes under the Clean Water Act

- $1 million for a new hydro-electric turbine at Shand Dam near Fergus to replace the old one which failed in 2006. The money for the project will be borrowed from GRCA reserve accounts and then repaid from profits earned on electricity sales which will amount to more than $200,000 a year when the turbine is fully operational

- $67,000 for water quality studies on the Nith and Grand rivers covered by grants from the Region of Waterloo

- $150,000 to complete the installation of a “green roof” at the Laurel Creek Nature Centre. Private sector donations to the Grand River Conservation Foundation are covering most of the total project cost of $300,000

.

- $80,000 for tree planting and other work at the Luther Marsh Wildlife Management Area, offset by a grant from Ontario Power Generation

 

 

Base budget: $18.1 million (62 per cent of expenditures)

 

The base budget, which covers ongoing operations and programs, totals $18.1 million, an increase of $1.6 million from the budgeted amount in 2007. That pays for the GRCA’s work to prevent flooding, improve water quality, protect water supplies, provide environmental education, provide environmental planning advice to municipalities and landowners, operate trails, and manage forests, wetlands and other sensitive environmental lands.

 

Included in this part of the budget is the cost of installation of two new water quality gauges on the Grand River. About $140,000 will be spent on a gauge at Victoria Street in Kitchener, half of which is being paid by the Region of Waterloo. The GRCA is also spending $160,000 on a water quality station on the Grand at York in Haldimand County.

 

Conservation area operations: $5.6 million (19 per cent of expenditures)

 

The GRCA’s 12 conservation areas are financially self-sufficient and record more than one million paid visits a year. Operating costs are expected to rise $100,000 this year.

 

Revenues

The GRCA has three principle sources of revenue:

 

Self-generated funds: $12.2 million (44 per cent of revenue)

 

Self-generated funds are expected to rise by about $780,000 (6.8 per cent) this year. The money comes from park admission fees, property rental, hydro-electricity sales, fees for services such as planning, school board payments for outdoor education programs, tree sales from the Burford Nursery, donations from the Grand River Conservation Foundation and other sources.

 

Municipal levy: $9 million (33 per cent of revenue)

 

This money comes from watershed residents as part of their municipal property taxes or charges on municipal water bills and amounts to about $8.54 a person. The total is up by about $540,000 from last year. The amount collected from each municipality is based on its property assessment, so can vary from one area to another, however the average increase is 6.99 per cent.

 

Government grants: $6.4 million (23 per cent of revenues)

Almost all of this money comes from the provincial government, in two types of grants:

 

- an annual operating grant of $951,547 for flood control programs. This grant has been frozen by the province since 1998.

- grants for specific projects, notably Drinking Water Source Protection under the Ontario Clean Water Act. These grants amount to $5.4 million, an increase of close to $3 million over 2007.

 

Further information: Dave Schultz, GRCA Coordinator of Communications

Phone: (519) 621-2763, Ext. 2273

Fax: (519) 621-4844

E-mail: Dave Schultz

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