By John Swartz
Orillia council meets in budget committee Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The full day meetings will deal primarily with the capital budget. When it’s over the meat of deliberations will be over, save for a special meeting of Council December 6 to formally ratify committee decisions. Also by the close of Wednesday’s meeting with both the general operating and capital budgets finalized, taxpayers will know how much their tax bills may go up.
The process today is to review all capital projects scheduled to be accomplished, or started in 2022. Capital spending is for things like construction, vehicle purchases, equipment and basically anything beyond wages, office supplies and program operations.
Major items staff recommend council approve include:
- Phase 2 of Centennial Drive reconstruction at $17,800,000.
- West Street South reconstruction at $5,844,000.
- Upgrades to the Bayview sewage pumping station at $$3,500,000
- Waterman replacement on Esther Anne, Karen Crescent and Charles Road at $950,000
- Phase 2 rehabilitation of the chlorine room at the water filtration plant at $1,180,000
- Refurbishing council chambers, including upgrade audio and video equipment at $492,000.
- Replacement of various heavy trucks, other vehicles and a back hoe at $1,270,000.
Additionally, there are road and sidewalk refurbishing projects totaling $1,332,000. Roads getting new asphalt are; a part of Barrie Road, Martin Drive, part of Park Street, Collegiate Drive and Cedar Street. Sidewalks being replaced are: both sides of Cedar, and one side of Canice and St. Jean Streets.
Also in the budget are various repairs and replacements to heating and ventilation, the facade and flooring totaling $145,000 for City Hall itself.
The total capital budget is $41,200,000 for 86 projects. Of that, staff has carved out $2,000,000 to be applied to the 2022 tax levy and the remainder comes from various grants and reserve funds.
That takes care of projects staff recommends as necessary, or are already in progress with funding for studies and plans paid for in previous years. There are 9 projects totaling $733,000, of which $648,000 would be funded from the 2022 tax levy. This is more a wish list than must be done. Some of those projects are: an economic development strategic plan, an information technology reserve contribution, landscaping at the Orillia Recreation Centre, updating the Downtown Tomorrow plan, an audit of green house gas emissions from municipal buildings, water bottle refilling and electric vehicle charging station installations and rebuilding the Collins Drive boat launch.
These projects are subject to how much is left inside the $2 million tax levy amount after council gets done with the must have list, which accounts for $1.1 million. Council can change the staff recommendation list, but usually does not, there is room to approve all of the wish list items.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)