By John Swartz
Orillia council meets in budget committee Wednesday and Thursday this week. The budget is split into two basic parts, operating and capital.
The operating budget accounts for things like wages, board and committee expenses, payments for service to other organizations, fees and revenue other than taxes, contributions to some reserves, and paper clips. The focus for the next two days is on those things. Each day’s session will begin at 9 a.m. and go until council decides to adjourn.
The operating budget is further broken down into areas of interest. The general operating overview has 148 line items of increase or decrease in funding ranging from contractual salary and benefit increases ($816,495) to cost of inflation to keep status quo on all operations ($141,797), to savings on energy bills (-$32,700).
If council approves all the 148 line items the overall budget will go up $2,248,000, or 3.8%. That is unlikely to happen and will likely be a lower figure.
Other items from operating with no direct effect on the tax levy, but you will still get a bill, include the water systems and parking. The constant objective is to have operating costs lower than revenue in order to build reserves for replacing or upgrading these services as things wear out. In each of those treasury is projecting higher contributions to reserves in 2020.
There are also 21 other items for council to pass judgment on individually which will in turn affect parts of the general operating budget. Most of these are requests for increased staffing in various departments; some relate to IT and software improvements, changes to facility rental fees and planning application fees, plus a transit fare increase of $.10 per ride.
Budget committee will meet again next week focusing on the capital budget. Capital items are things like roads buildings vehicles and equipment, generally the things that depreciate in value over time.
CORRECTION: Orillia Transit increase was wrong.