ERCA board unanimously approves 2014 budget


The Essex Region Conservation Authority has unanimously approved its 2014 budget at a total of $7.1 million and will forward the budget to its member municipalities.

The proposed budget estimates for 2014 total $7,168,140 and includes a levy contribution from member municipalities of $2,796,934 including $504,100 for capital and operational reserves, of which $425,000 is to be used for capital infrastructure projects, and  $132,400 new funds for land acquisition and $96,000 to address the historical accumulated deficit.


“ERCA’s budget respects the pressures that municipalities face in limiting tax increases, while at the same time recognizes the important and pressing needs of our regional environment,” said ERCA general manager Richard Wyma.

Windsor city councillor Hilary Payne questioned what the historical accumulated deficit originated from and Wyma explained that for a number of years ERCA had a zero per cent increase or a negative increase but had rising costs. He said infrastructure also needed to be replaced during that time period.

The organization’s sustainability plan calls for that deficit to be eliminated over a five-year period, added Wyma.

Among the projects proposed for under the 2014 budget include completing the eco-washroom at Holiday Beach Conservation Area, updating and submitting the final Source Protection Plan to the Ministry of Environment, and working with the City of Windsor on designs and improvements to the Grand Marais Drain and Little River. Other plans ERCA aims to undertake include completing management plans for the Holiday Beach Conservation Area, upgrading facilities at John R. Park Homestead, Maidstone and Kopegaron Conservation Areas, and working with partners to implement the Essex Region Natural Heritage System Strategy through participation in municipal Official Plan updates.

ERCA states it also plans to restore at least 125 acres of land and plant more than 140,000 trees across the region, complete the Intensity-Duration-Frequency Curve project with the City of Windsor, the Ontario Climate Consortium, and other member municipalities, and develop a research strategy with the University of Windsor and other partners.

Based on Conservation Ontario Statistics, ERCA was the tenth largest of all 36 conservation authorities in terms of total revenues. That figure includes provincial and federal program grants, special program grants such as water and erosion control infrastructure and self-generated revenues. At the same time, ERCA states that it ranked 30th out of 36 conservation authorities in terms of general levy as a percentage of total revenues (26.31 per cent), which is below the average of 38.24 per cent.

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