Comments for the 2024  Budget Preparation Process

The MRA would like to compliment this Council for once again opening the window to allow public comments in advance of the budget preparation process.  The Engage Muskoka Website and the September 7th public meeting should provide interested parties in the Township with an opportunity to provide meaningful “grass roots” suggestions at the preliminary planning stage.

Council and staff have spent a lot of time and taxpayer dollars to have several consultants develop Master Plans for numerous initiatives.  The Transportation, Community Improvement, Fire and Parks and Recreation Master Plans will undoubtedly consume significant financial resources over the next several years.   The MRA believes these Master Plans are fragmented and sit essentially in their own silo.  We would like to see Council and staff start to develop an Enterprise Master Plan that ties the individual Master Plans into an “Umbrella Master Plan” that considers and prioritizes the major elements necessary to make Muskoka Lakes a vibrant, successful municipality in the years ahead. Some of the areas that need to be addressed are attainable housing, the economy, climate change, optimizing Township infrastructure (having the right type and size of buildings in the best location) for our current and projected demographics.


The MRA would like to see the addition of head count for each department, both budgeted and actual.  This would include the number of permanent full time, part time and contract employees for the years ending of 2022, 2023 and the budgeted head count for 2024.

In addition, we would be interested to know the value increase associate with each labour increase. Labour growth should also be prioritized by policy objectives e.g. by-law enforcement as it relates to execution of the Short Term Rental Licensing By-law.


The MRA believes that capital monies can be deployed more effectively.     The Township has many buildings that are century old relics from a past era, most are under utilized, expensive to maintain and cost prohibitive to rehabilitate.   An Enterprise Master Plan could ensure the Township has the right buildings in the right locations to better and more efficiently serve our demography.

To provide better transparency and more complete information the MRA would like to see the following included in the capital budget:

  • For 2022, 2023 and 2024 include by project and department the dollars budgeted, the dollars spent in each year and the dollars forecast to complete the project, if appropriate. Also list projects that have  major scope changes, been postponed or cancelled.
  • The Ten Year Capital Forecast should be done in current budget year (2024) dollars. No attempt should be made to guesstimate inflationary impacts beyond 2024.


The MRA has found it next to impossible to understand the Township’s calculation of their financial reserves.  Data in isolation is of limited value unless it is compared to target values or previous periods. We would make the following suggestions to provide more transparency and a better understanding of reserves for the public:

  • Provide actual 2022 year end reserves for the various reserve categories i.e. restricted, (building department, parkland, development fees etc.) as well as the unrestricted reserves.
  • Show the amounts contributed and expended for 2022 and 2023 and where those amounts originate i.e. gas tax, municipal partnership funds, property tax capital contribution.
  • Show the forecasted year end reserves for 2023 and 2024 by category along with the actual or forecast flow of funds in and out of each account
  • All capital expenditures should be paid from reserves and all income designated for capital expenditures should sit in the appropriate reserve account until paid

The MRA reserves the right to provide further comment once the 2024 budget is drafted.

The MRA would like to thank Council and staff for the work that has been devoted to making the budget and the budgeting process more informative and understandable.

Liz Denyar – President
Gord Carlton – Secretary/Treasurer

September 2023