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Budgets Presented

Long-term care took centre stage at the Oxford County council budget meeting.

OXFORD- COUNTY - During the course of 4 and a half hours the newly inaugurated Oxford County Council dove into the upcoming 2015 budget.

The first of four meetings over the course of two months had three County departments presenting their draft budgets for the upcoming year to County Council. Public Works, Human Services and Woodingford Lodge compose 79 percent of the total County budget and made their objectives and goals for the year clear.

The Public Works department which comprises 50% of the total County budget emphasized a number of projects for the new year including a road study, a building condition assessment to evaluate the status of county assets.

"We have the construction of County Road 8 West of Hickson to the 10th line, it's a project we've worked on for a few years and it will go to construction in 2015, there's phase two of North street in Tillsonburg...rebuilding North street from Broadway to the east town limits," said Director of Public Works for the County Rob Walton.

Corrie Fransen, the Director of Woodingford Lodge listed a number of priorities for the Lodge and also noted a difficulty they have faced, "most long-term care facilities and actually healthcare in general is having difficulty in finding registered staff, there's just an overall shortage and we're just trying to come up with creative ways to make sure registered staff want to work at Woodingford Lodge and being flexible."

The Human Services department which encompasses a wide area of services had an extensive list of budget goals including assisting local child care providers with the difficult transition following the introduction of full-day kindergarten. Director of Human Services Paul Beaton says, "one of the primary objectives is to continue to develop affordable housing in Oxford County, social housing is housing that is really rent geared to income housing, where as affordable housing is 80% of market rents and so with market rents in Oxford County for a one bedroom being around $750 a month, affordable would be around 80% of that figure."

Beaton added that 200 affordable units have been created in Oxford County so far. Human Services is requesting $500,000 from the County to provide incentive for developers to build affordable housing.

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