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March 2012 - Monthly Column from CAO/Clerk

Monday March 26th, 2012

North Huron Notes       March 26, 2012

Ever wonder if elected officials and municipal staff are paying attention to the views of local residents?   North Huron’s 2012 Budget, recently approved by Council, along with other recent initiatives, can be linked back to last fall’s community consultation phase of our strategic planning process.   This phase included public meetings in Blyth, East Wawanosh, and Wingham; roundtable discussions with local business groups and non-profit service providers; and a Citizen Survey.   In total, over 500 residents took part in this consultation phase and provided us with valuable feedback about their goals and vision for North Huron, and the priorities and issues they feel the municipality should be focused on.

A consensus emerged on several key points.  First, North Huron residents want programs and services maintained, not cut or reduced.  Second, North Huron residents want future tax increases kept to reasonable levels and they want Council and staff to look for efficiencies to reduce the overall cost of delivering programs and services.  Third, residents want Council and staff to do more regarding economic development and North Huron businesses.

The 2012 Budget, despite challenging economic times and tight operating budgets, maintains programs and services, which is a priority for North Huron residents.    Council also had resident feedback in mind regarding tax levels when they approved a spending increase of 2.92% which is in line with inflation.   Council and staff worked together to find savings, trim expenditures, reduce capital projects and equipment purchases.  In the area of economic development, a new committee has been established that is comprised of Council and community members from all three wards.   The purpose of this committee is to create a strategy and action plan to attract development and new businesses as well as support our existing businesses.   Council and staff are also very excited about the new business associations created over the past year, specifically the Blyth Business Improvement Association and the Wingham Business Alliance.  North Huron Council and staff are working with these associations on downtown revitalization initiatives including the Josephine St. project in Wingham and the Downtown Streetscape Master Plan in Blyth.
Council and staff want to make sure that our decisions and actions are consistent with the views and priorities of our residents.  Maintaining programs and services, keeping taxes competitive, attracting economic development and supporting our business community will help us retain our residents as well as attract more residents and investment.  What you think matters to us.  This is our community and your future.   Let’s continue to work together.  

Gary Long
Township of North Huron